CODE 2, VOL 32, NO 10 : 10 April 2018

Committee of Management Elections – Update

The nominations for the Committee of Management positions closed on Tuesday 3rd April 2018.

Please click here for the summary of nominations from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

Please note that the validity of candidates is still being checked and we are also in a withdrawal period so the candidates may change.

Once the withdrawal date has passed, an updated summary will be sent out to members.

Removal of Temps – Update

You are aware that your union and Fire and Rescue have an enforceable deed of agreement regarding the removal of all temp firefighters across Queensland.

You can find a copy of the deed here.

Because you have reported your concerns that the over-reliance on temps appears to continue, your union wrote to the Chief Strategy Officer on 20 April 2018, asking for responses to four questions.

Below are the four UFUQ questions and the Fire and Rescue responses –

1.
Do you intend to reduce crewing below 1+3 as the default?

‘QFES has no intention of reducing the one-plus-three crewing model as the default’

2.
Do you intend to limit access to discretionary leave?

‘There will be no limited access to staff accessing leave’

3.
Do you intend to increase the over-reliance on overtime?

‘QFES intends to continue to reduce its reliance on overtime’

4.
Do you intend to remove temps in accordance with the deed?
‘QFES intends to meet all its obligations in respect of the deed’

I will report back to you once we understand more about QFES intentions with regard to replacing temps, and how they are continuing to plan to do that.

Review of the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme

Section 584A of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act) requires the relevant Minister to ensure a review of the operation of the workers’ compensation scheme is completed at least once every five years.

Accordingly, there is a review currently underway which is required to be completed, and a report tabled in Parliament, by 30 June 2018.

The key areas the 2018 review is focusing on are –

1. The performance of the scheme in meeting the objectives under section 5 of the Act, and

2. Emerging issues facing the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme, and

3. The effectiveness of current rehabilitation and return to work programs and policy settings, including ways to increase Queensland’s current return to work rate.

The review involves consultation with key stakeholders, and your union was provided with an opportunity to make a written submission (as were other unions, and the Queensland Council of Unions).

UFUQ members, due to the work you do day in day out, are frequently at risk of sustaining a work-related injury, and your union considered it extremely important that we advocate for members on several important issues that were relevant to the review and that promote and protect your safety.

A summary of the issues raised in our submission are as follows –

1. In our view, the current workers’ compensation scheme fails to adequately support workers who sustain a significant work-related injury that prevents them from returning to their pre-injury job, and this could be reasonably resolved by reintroducing a service like the former Q-Comp return to work assist which provided workers in this situation with support to transition into another job and access to vocational services like retraining.

2. It is a common experience for UFUQ members (and other workers in Queensland) to be provided with inadequate suitable duties and a poor standard of rehabilitation, and this could be reasonably resolved by introducing more regulatory oversight, ensuring that the Guidelines for standard for rehabilitation are much more prescriptive, specifically in relation to the provision of suitable duties (much like WHS Codes of Practice), introducing a penalty for an employer who fails to provide a standard of rehabilitation consistent with the guidelines and reintroducing the requirement for return to work and rehabilitation coordinators to have accredited training and be registered with the regulator.

3. In our view, the current requirement for employment to be the ‘major’ significant contributing factor for psychological injuries is a substantial barrier to legitimate claims made by UFUQ members succeeding, and we believe the scheme would provide a fairer benefit for members (and other workers in Queensland) if the word ‘major’ as it appears in section 32 of the Act was removed to ensure the test for psychological injuries is the same as that for physical injuries.

4. In our view, any claim that is lodged relating to one of the 12 cancers covered by ‘presumptive legislation’ in which the claimant does not meet the ‘minimum number of years’ prescribed in schedule 4A of the Act should be referred to the Medical Assessment Tribunal (MAT), and we believe this is a more balanced approach compared to WorkCover Queensland’s current determination process, and will provide more considered decisions, given that the MAT would generally be made up of a panel (of 3 doctors) consisting of at least one specialist in the relevant field (e.g. a Urologist).

The UFUQ, in our submission, also endorsed the submission made by the Queensland Council of Unions.

I will provide you with an update on any relevant recommendations of this important review after the report is tabled in Parliament. 

 

John Oliver – General Secretary

Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary 
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD