ACT firefighters will take protected industrial action on Tuesday morning (26 March) after failing to reach a pay deal with the Government.
Firefighters rejected a package in December last year that would have stripped away key conditions of employment in exchange for a pay rise. The ACT United Firefighters Union rejected the 10 per cent pay rise offer and insisted that funding should be invested in safety instead.
ACT UFU branch secretary Greg McConville said firefighters had “overwhelmingly voted” to take protected industrial action starting at 8am on Tuesday.
“We simply do not have enough firefighters to cope with increasing demands, many fire stations require renovation, new fire stations will require staff and our training needs to be updated,” he said.
“A firefighter’s job is a to save lives and it’s a job they take very seriously. They can’t do that job if they are overworked, understaffed and lacking in resources and equipment.
“With a growing ACT population and increased extreme weather events due to climate change, the underfunding and understaffing of ACT Fire and Rescue is a recipe for disaster.”
Mr McConville said despite 26 meetings over two years, firefighters had not been able to reach an agreement with the ACT Emergency Services Agency over their new enterprise bargaining agreement.
Mr McConville said that protected industrial action would be administrative in nature and directed at the ESA without compromising community safety.
“ACT firefighters have said loudly and clearly to the ACT Government, keep the pay rise, invest in safety,” he said. “As a result of the ESA’s uncompromising stance, firefighters will commence protected industrial action from 8 am Tuesday 26 March.
“Our first commitment is to protecting lives and the public can rest assured that protected industrial action will in no way compromise community safety.”
Mr McConville said the union was keen to meet with the ESA as soon as possible and that any change to the bans would only occur with the required minimum notice of at least three days.
“We have sought meetings with the ESA, but the best they could offer was 9 April. We have had no response to our most recent request for negotiation meetings to occur sooner.”
The initial protected action would include:
- A ban on complying with a direction to remove union badging or industrial material displayed on, in or around work locations, appliances or UFU members;
- Only attending meetings at which any of the ESA Commissioner, Chief Officer, Executive Officer, or ESA Directors, attend if the purpose of the meeting is notified in advance as being about operational incidents, operational de-briefing, training, securing public health or occupational health and safety, or enterprise agreement bargaining;
- A ban on creating a record of any employee’s participation in protected industrial action;
- A ban on assisting in the preparation of ministerial reports.