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For the record

Published:

Tonight (5 November, 2012) the FBEU issued a "Code Red" notice instructing members to engage in industrial action by refusing to comply with lawful instructions (to perform relieving, outduties and stand bys).

Apart from impacting on payments to its members (eg km payments, relieving payments), as a direct result of the FBEU instruction the number of stations offline tonight had to triple to 6. If not for the FBEU instruction, tonight only 2 pumpers, 1 aerial and 1 heavy rescue would have been temporarily offline - less than are routinely taken offline each day for training, forums and other purposes.

The Code Red also stated that the decision to TOL was "directly contrary to undertakings to provide advance notice". This is incorrect. I rang the FBEU Secretary to advise him of the decision to TOL prior to the direction being made. The issue has been the subject of proceedings in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) on at least 9 occasions, and I have continually made it clear that while FRNSW has been examining all options to reduce costs, none are capable of delivering the required budget savings and TOLing will have to occur at some stage. In September the FBEU had requested that 2 days notice be given, perhaps so that industrial action could be planned.

The decision to TOL was made today after a weekend when 111 overtime shifts were worked, and after a review of the overtime budget revealed that 70% of the full year budget has already been spent.

After the FBEU membership voted down a proposed cost cutting package, the FBEU has seemed determined to thwart every possible avenue for cost savings. Despite meeting with a senior FBEU official at the very time it was being tabled in the IRC, I did not receive the courtesy of any notification of the FBEU's proposed "conditions award", which if successful, will ensure that FRNSW exceeds budget by millions of dollars. This will ultimately have far more serious ramifications than TOLing, and it appears likely that the FBEU has not thought this through.

I am very much aware that TOLing is an unpopular measure, however I am satisfied that it can be done safely, and that it will help to address our unsustainable absenteeism and overtime issues. I will keep staff advised as this matter progresses.


Greg Mullins AFSM
Commissioner