SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME IN EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL

Our union warmly congratulates and commends member Ms Kim Quinn on her success in the Employment Tribunal in the matter of Kim Quinn v Chief Executive, Department of Treasury with the employer conceding the Order by the Tribunal that her employment with the MFS be continuous and ongoing. Great work Kim, well done!

At the eleventh hour the employer conceded the Orders sought by our Union and Ms Quinn is now looking forward to returning to her crew and her position as a Retained Firefighter at Pt Augusta Station upon the completion of the normal reacquisition of skills process.

This means that the matter set down for 10:00 hours tomorrow (Wed 31/8) will now NOT proceed; sincere thanks are extended to all of those of you who have supported Kim, her family and the crew at Port Augusta Station and in particular for all the offers from you to join us at the hearing in the Tribunal.

Kim’s return to work is a significant victory for members, reinforcing the requirement for fairness and equity in our workplaces. Kim has displayed great fortitude and moral courage in standing up for safe workplaces and respectful behaviours, particularly as evidenced in her refusal to be shut down or gagged by the employer. (Or indeed to be cowed by the then Deputy Premier, earlier this year.)

We know that MFS management is aware of their obligations as the PCBU under the Work Health and Safety Act to provide a safe workplace for our members and we will be working closely with them to ensure these are rigorously applied at the Port Augusta Station.

While pleased this Tribunal matter has been appropriately resolved, it is disappointing to say the least, that the employer is still clearly unable to say the word “sorry” to Kim for the ordeal she has experienced.

Our union continues to call for an apology to be extended to Firefighter Kim Quinn who has been assaulted at work, had to fight for her complaint to be heard, then to wait years for it to be finalised, suffering ongoing bullying and harassment, only to then be unfairly dismissed from her MFS employment.

A “sorry” costs nothing but symbolises much.

The absence of any expression of regret speaks loudly indeed about those in power who continue to wear the white ribbon and to say the right words but fail to match them with the ethics and moral action required of leaders in 2022. Respectful behaviour? We say very much NOT.

AMBULANCE ASSIST TASKFORCE

As reported in No 25/2022, the Premier’s Taskforce met last Friday for the first time. Comprised of Ministers for Health Chris Picton and Emergency Services Joe Szakacs, Leah Watkins from the AEA, SAAS CO Rob Elliot, MFS CO Michael Morgan, UFUSA President Chas Thomas and me, the Taskforce discussed at length the matter of the response to Ambulance Assist calls to the SAMFS.

As members are aware the scope of work of firefighters has been expanding in recent years and in particular, the calls to assist ambulance has risen by approximately 60% in the last 12 months.

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Our union has been arguing for enhanced training and recognition of this work together with appropriate resourcing over the last two years as part of the enterprise bargaining negotiations but being met with deaf ears. The matter has also been taken up directly with the Chief Officer who does not participate in the EA negotiations, sadly without progress being made or consultation there either.

The discussion last Friday was very positive and hopefully the work of the Task Force will now appropriately address this matter.

In the first instance the parties agreed that the SAAS and the MFS collate relevant data in order that the current situation can be objectively determined.

The Government has made it very clear that it does not see firefighters replacing paramedics and that this is not the objective of the work of the Task Force. The group agreed to meet again in the near future to look at the data and discuss the matter further.

In the meantime it has been reported that DCO Fletcher has advised meetings of members that the union has agreed to a trial of First Responder commencing in December this year.

To be clear, if the DCO has said this, the information IS CATEGORICALLY INCORRECT.

All members are reminded that MFS management does NOT speak on behalf of our union so please remember to check your sources when scuttlebutt is being put about. Sadly it is a common occurrence.

Meantime, it has been confirmed that Mr Fletcher has had his contract extended by the Chief Officer to 30 June 2023. The union was not consulted.

INJURED WORKERS

I note with concern the difficulties being experienced by increasing numbers of members with work injury claims and in particular those diagnosed with cancer.

The representation of members and retired members with such claims forms a significant portion of the work of our union and we witness closely the suffering of our injured members and their families as we fight your cases.

It is particularly distressing that almost 10 years after the introduction of presumptive legislation for firefighters, acknowledged to be exposed at work to high levels of carcinogens in the course of work, that the employer is once again rejecting cancer claims.

Further, members applying for the extended benefits won in our last EA are waiting far too long for a response from the employer as they anxiously contemplate the cessation of payments and assistance in managing chronic conditions caused by their work as firefighters.

This is clearly not acceptable, and the matter is being addressed as a priority by our union with a full report to be presented to the next meeting of State Council on 8 September 2022.

In solidarity,

SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME IN EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL

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STATE COUNCIL ELECTRONIC BALLOT OPENED TODAY 

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