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Fire Commissioner calls on union to accept IRC ruling

Published: 6th November 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins has accepted a recommendation from the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) to suspend taking fire stations temporarily off line.

“I now call on the Fire Brigade Employees Union to accept the rest of the recommendations – to lift its expensive industrial bans, and to come up with alternative savings proposals, acceptable to its members, for rapid implementation,” Commissioner Mullins said.

FRNSW has the highest rates of sick leave of any fire service in the country which had led to the overtime bill blowing out to $24 million in 2011/12 – more than $7 million over budget.

“Fire & Rescue NSW routinely reallocates and moves up to 10-15 fire station crews around Sydney on any particular day without impacting on response coverage. The measures implemented yesterday were simply an extension of this,” Commissioner Mullins said.

A range of cost saving measures aimed at curbing excessive overtime expenditure had previously been presented by the FBEU to its membership but was comprehensively voted down. The result was no resolution to a stalemate that has seen 70 per cent of the fire & rescue service’s overtime budget depleted only three months into the new financial year.

“Quite frankly, after the package was rejected by its members, the FBEU has tried to block every possible savings measure,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“The IRC has recommended that the same package, previously voted down, be resubmitted to union members for closer consideration.”

The suspension to the practice of taking fire stations temporarily offline to curb overtime expense come into effect immediately.

Both the FBEU and FRNSW will reappear before the IRC on 4 December.