NEWS

28 NOVEMBER UPDATE - OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY QIRC COMMISSIONER FISHER

Further to previous advice relating to the enterprise agreement process, an official statement by QIRC Commissioner Fisher has now been released.

In this statement, the Commissioner has communicated her intent to issue an interim pay increase of %1.7 to senior officers, whilst arbitration occurs on the matters outstanding between the other parties.  The Commissioner has asked the SOU to draft this order, and to provide the draft order to the other parties for review.  The draft order will also include the other matters previously agreed between the SOU and QFRS.

The SOU intends to seek IR advice as the form and content of a draft order.  An SOU State Council teleconference will be convened immediately after this advice is taken to then brief and seek input from all branch councillors.

The SOU Executive requests that all members read the statement carefully, so as to better understand the situation.  The QIRC statement is available by request from your branch councillor.

Thank you

SOU State Executive

16 NOVEMBER UPDATE - OUTCOME OF S.148 ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT NEGOTIATIONS

SOU Members would be aware that enterprise agreement negotiations have been occurring in the QIRC under S.148 of the IR Act.  This section of the Act allows the QIRC to assist parties involved in enterprise agreement negotiations.  As of 15 November, hearings under this section of the Act have now concluded - without agreement being reached between the UFU and QFRS.

In the near future, QIRC Commissioner Fisher will be releasing a statement which will communicate the QIRC's determination regarding the next step in the process.  SOU members will be advised when this statement is released, with the SOU State Council being reconvened at this time for briefing purposes.  

Thank you

SOU State Executive

SENIOR FIRE OFFICERS - Strategic Communication Paper

The SOU is pleased to officially release a new SOU publication titled 'SENIOR FIRE OFFICERS - Strategic, Operational and Tactical Leaders of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service'

The paper successfully answers a number of questions relating to the critical role and purpose of QFRS senior officers.  SOU members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the content with a view to effectively informing members of parliament and other pertinent parties (where appropriate) of the important role played by senior officers in protecting Queensland communities.

An electronic version of the paper is available here.

Professionally printed hard copies are being finalised and will be distributed when available.  

Thank you

SOU State Secretary

ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT UPDATE - 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Members are advised that a statement (excerpt provided below) was released yesterday by QIRC Commissioner Fisher - relating to ongoing enterprise agreement discussions.  Essentially the statement provides the parties with the QIRC position on whether the matter should now proceed to Arbitration.  SOU members are encouraged to read the excerpt so as to acquaint themselves with the current status of enterprise agreement negotiations.

Thank you

SOU State Executive  

QIRC STATEMENT
CA/2012/56

S. 148 – Assistance in negotiating by conciliation – Department of Community Safety - Queensland Fire and Rescue Service v United Firefighters’ Union of Australia, Union of Employees and others.

The Department of Community Safety (the Department) has requested that the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (the Commission) refer to arbitration a dispute concerning the negotiations of an agreement with the United Firefighters’ Union of Australia, Union of Employees (UFU) and others.  The Department has made the request pursuant to s. 149(1)(b) of the Industrial Relations Act 1999.

Accordingly, the Commission considers that it should allow another conciliation conference to be held within a limited timeframe.  To that end the Commission issues the following directions:

1) That the UFU provide the Department, the Public Service Commission and the Commission its ‘revised offer” by close of business on Tuesday, 13 November 2012.
2) That a further conciliation conference be held in the Commission at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday 15 November 2012.

Should the next conciliation conference not show any reasonable prospect of the matter being settled the Commission will then further consider in short order the request by the Department to refer the dispute to arbitration.

Finally, the Commission reserves its position on the matter raised by the Queensland Fire and Rescue – Senior Officers Union of Employees until the future conduct of the matter becomes clearer.

(SOU Note: the matter raised by the SOU that the QIRC is reserving its position on refers to the SOU seeking to not have our elements arbitrated due to in principle agreement already having being achieved.)  

EXTRAORDINARY TIMES

EBA Negotiations
The Enterprise Bargaining process is continuing slowly. As previously advised the SOU has agreed to a position and formally written to the QFRS advising them of this. Although this acceptance letter was provided before the expiry date of the agreement we are unable to progress under the terms of a Single Bargaining Unit (SBU) until all parties (unions) are agreeable. As you would understand the considerable raft of demands placed on UFU members are significant and the UFU needs to carefully consider them which takes time.

During SBU negotiations, it's common for different unions to reach agreement at different times.  The SOU Executive would like to make it clear that we believe that the moderate offer accepted by your union is not dependant on the UFU conceding to any demands and we respect and support the right of the UFU to negotiate an acceptable outcome in its own time.

Nevertheless, its a reality that we can not move forward at this stage so the SOU is getting IR and legal advice as to what options we have, if any, to progress this process.

Fire Service Staff Reductions
The SOU has watched with concern the recent announcement regarding QFRS staffing and the subsequent 'back flip' on rural changes. The SOU has been actively lobbying the Director-General and indirectly the Minister regarding the value and role of Senior Officers and the fact that we are substantially the same number as in 2001 despite the enormous population growth and exponetial increase in the number, intensity, size and complexity of emergency incidents. The fact that we only lost one direct position is a testimony to your work load and professionalism. Nevertheless its been a sad few days with nearly all of us losing support staff, many of whom are friends and have been with us for years. It was most unfortunate that these announcements were made on 9/11 which is such a significant day to fire services around the world.

We also have grave concerns regarding the reduction in not just rural operations Senior Officers but the reduction in rural fire brigade support. We all remember how dangerous it was before Rural Operations was established to support RFB's with training, access to Firecom, proper PPE and a consistent operational Doctrine. Lets hope we don't go back to the bad old days. 

The SOU has today requested an urgent meeting with Minister Dempsey to discuss the future.

Regards

SOU State Executive