The solidarity and commitment of members to our Safety and Resourcing Campaign has faced down all challenges to date and continues to drive slow but positive changes for MFS employees and others in the emergency services sector. Congratulations to you all and of course to all our supporters.
However even as we celebrate each small step forward, we identify and acknowledge how far there is yet to go, to achieve our goals.
Critical goals including a funded asset management plan encompassing timely and planned obsolescence of appliances, PPE and equipment in order that firefighters work as safely as possible in the important job of protecting our community.
And including a properly staffed Engineering Department, sufficient spares in a work ready condition, the development of a state-of-the-art training centre, a comprehensive plan for Marine, together with adequate funding for WHS initiatives such as the reduction of exposure to Diesel Particulates.
We know that our claims are not only fair and reasonable, but they are also critical. It’s a long hard fight but the attainment of our objectives is possible with such solidarity and commitment as demonstrated by UFUSA members.
It is encouraging that dialogue between MFS Management and the UFU has been re-established on a range of issues which has so far produced the following:
- MFS Management has committed to a consultative process with regular meetings being scheduled;
- Confirmation that the tender is complete for new TICs to be rolling out into the system very soon with this matter particularly of note for those Regional Operations appliances previously lacking them;
- A plan is under way to rectify the BOPS faults and how the rest of the MFS fleet will be progressed;
- The trialling of a process for SAMFS Policies and Procedures to progress through to the UFU for consultation and implementation as appropriate;
- A greater transparency to be provided to the union on actual staffing numbers in ranks;
- Our Public Campaigning has brought some more funding promised from Government and the Chief is attempting to use future funding from 4 years hence, to purchase more trucks;
- There is now a focus on Asset Management across the sector (though not yet on the funding of assets).
These are small but significant steps and while there are still major issues of disagreement between the parties, it is heartening for there to be some more positive developments.
We have again called for Mr Marshall to meet with us and in the meantime, we continue our political, social media and community campaigning. As you know, the wearing of Union T-shirts and hoodies continues unabated. In the absence of a union hoodie, a shift hoodie or soft shell jacket may be worn. Shirts are not required. Members in day work are encouraged to continue to participate in T shirt Tuesdays.
In the absence of the satisfactory resolution of our claims, plans are being developed for the escalation of further campaign action.
ONLINE CAMPAIGN PETITION
A reminder to members of the online Safety and Resourcing Campaign petition in response to all those who wish to support firefighters and send a direct message to the Marshall government. Sign up here.
DIESEL EMISSION UPDATE
The Work Health Safety Committee has been meeting on a monthly basis and the topic of reducing your exposure to Diesel emissions has received plenty of attention.
While the progress forward has been slower than what our Union would like to see, there has been progress, nonetheless. Since the release of the Safety Alert on Diesel emissions exposure (October 2020) the committee has been working through a number of recommendations presented by our Union which we believe, if complied with, will see the MFS meet its Duty of Care obligations under the WHS Act.
To date we have seen movement on a number of the administrative controls such as the Safety Alert and soon to be released stickers for engine bay doors reminding us to have engine bay doors open and fans running when trucks are moving in and out.
It’s also exciting to report that projects have been raised to source alternative PPE storage for those stations that still have PPE stored in the engine bay. However, the motivation here is not solely reducing its exposure to Diesel Particulate Matter but also reducing exposure to UV and therefore extending the life of our garments.
A longer term goal is to have direct source capture extraction systems and we are pleased to see the MFS are running a trial in the Mt Barker station.
After some early hiccups this seems to be on track, and we hear this is being considered for integration into the new Noarlunga Station. We commend the service for taking this step and wish it a great success as this is currently the best way to reduce our exposure to ‘As Low As Reasonably Practicable’. Watch this space.
Over the coming months we hope and will endeavour to continue working through the Union recommendations with the WHS Committee and see more progress in reducing your exposure to this known carcinogen.
Diesel fact: Did you know that the recommended workplace exposure limit in the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists: Diesel Particulate Matter and Occupational Health Issues Position Paper is higher than the level of Diesel Engine Exhaust which is associated with Cancer? (Source Cancer Council Australia)
I WORK FOR SA – YOUR SAY SURVEY
The May 2021 meeting of the UFUSA State Council resolved to encourage all members to participate in the SA government public-sector survey known as I Work For SA, as it is an opportunity for you to provide direct and honest feedback regarding the service. Without such honest feedback, management will of course assume that everything is OK, and nothing will change. So if you haven’t yet participated in the survey, you are encouraged to do so ASAP as the closing date looms. I’m told that the survey takes approximately 15 minutes and is basically “tick and flick” with a button at the bottom for expanded comments and thoughts. The survey is open for only a few more days so please do participate soon – it closes on Friday, 28 May 2021.