Thank you to all those of you who have taken the opportunity to send a message to your state election candidates and to encourage family and friends to do likewise. It’s not too late to act and all members know the critical importance of sending the strongest possible message to whoever takes government after tomorrow’s election as so much depends on it.
PLEASE ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE UFUSA SAFETY & RESOURCING CAMPAIGN BY GOING TO, BY ACTIONING, & BY SHARING:
The sheer numbers of messages about our campaign which are being received by election candidates, has been consistently remarked upon by them, and we are greatly heartened to have gained the solid support of candidates across the political spectrum for our campaign objectives, from Labor, the Greens, SA Best, and the Nationals through to a range of important Independents.
As reported in Wordbacks over the last four years, support from various Marshall government representatives has been sought repeatedly and in earnest by your elected representatives. We met the Minister, the Treasurer and the Premier. Frustratingly and alarmingly, to no great avail.
Perhaps naïvely, firefighters believed that any government would be concerned to hear about the critical and deteriorating state of fire appliances, equipment, engineering support, and the lack of attention to safety in areas such as exposure to diesel particulates and the provision of burn overprotection systems.
Our campaign asks are responsible and relatively modest; we hoped for a mature understanding of the critical issues from the employer, perhaps even concern, a responsible approach and a sensible plan for the future. Rather, to our dismay, we encountered ignorance, derision, confusing smoke and mirrors, and political games. Fire and rescue services in South Australia are not funded to meet statutory obligations; that’s a fact which, while unpalatable to this government, is universally acknowledged at senior levels within the sector. Claims of “record spending” by the Marshall government are directly at odds with the national Productivity Commission Report issued in January 2022.
Your elected Shop Stewards and State Councillors recently unanimously condemned the Marshall government for its failure to negotiate in good faith on our Enterprise Agreement and safety and resourcing claims and for making an offensive offer to firefighters.
So offensive in fact that record numbers of you (almost 86% of those eligible) participated in the EA ballot, sending a strong message to the Marshall government with an 83% of firefighters rejecting the offer outright.
As previously reported Labor has made a commitment to firefighters that if elected, a Malinauskas Labor Government will:
➢ provide funding for twelve (12) additional Heavy Urban Pumper fire trucks over the next four years, on top of current commitments, to bring the operational fleet up to a maximum age of 20 years. This will free up budget to address other areas of concern.
➢ Labor will work with the MFS and the United Firefighters Union to negotiate a comprehensive asset management plan, focussed on truck, station, and equipment replacement, aiming to ensure that Firefighters will have the necessary resources to do their job.
➢ Provide ongoing funding for two additional tradespeople, and two apprentices in the MFS engineering department, to speed up repairs and maintenance
➢ Provide $250,000 for a trial of emission extraction technology to limit emergency workers’ exposure to diesel particulates
➢ immediately commence good faith bargaining on the firefighter enterprise agreement
While comparatively modest, State Council believes that this commitment forms a solid foundation for the steep climb out of the downward spiral of the resourcing of the SA fire and rescue service and could deliver a new era where firefighters will not be required to continually beg for resourcing to replace essential equipment to do the job.
It delivers hope for dignity and respect for firefighters from our employer.
The road ahead is not an easy one and vigilance and effort by firefighters will of course be required. Please be very certain that our union will continue to hotly pursue the interests of firefighters and the safety of our community, whoever is in government. You can act now to put us in the strongest possible position to do so.