CODE 2, VOL 34, NO 40 : 24 august 2020

UPDATE ON SO RECRUITMENT “CONTRACTING OUT” DISPUTE

On 12 August 2020 your union commenced two disputes with Fire and Rescue regarding their decision to contract out various recruitment and selection services to an external recruitment agency, and the way that resulted in interviews being conducted in South East Region (SER).

The UFUQ had been totally unaware that external recruitment agents had been involved in the current SO/SOSO recruitment process.

We found out only when the shortlist of applicants was released – which showed that around 70% of SO and SOSO applicants had been culled and would not even get a chance to interview.

The UFUQ immediately commenced a dispute on the grounds that F & R had breached CA19, by failing to consult with us about the contracting out of recruitment services.

It took until 21 August 2020 for F & R to provide us with the information we ought to have been provided months ago, regarding the extent of the external agency’s involvement. 

We are now in receipt of written assurances from Talent Acquisition and the AC HCM that the external agency was not responsible for any decision making, and did not have any influence over the shortlisting of candidates.

F & R have assured us that the external agency was only engaged to provide administrative (note-taking) support. The recruitment expertise boasted by this agency through “data-based decision making” and “predictive analytics” was not utilised in the current recruitment process.

F & R claim to have insufficient HR and administrative staff to be able to complete this work in-house.

Your union doubts this, and we have made it clear to F & R that we believe the contracting out of these services is an unjustifiable waste of tax-payer funds. We have reminded senior management that we have all copped a 2.5% wage deferral in order to assist in the Government’s economic recovery, and that we expect better from management.

We have also made it clear that we believe F & R are not complying with the whole of government’s “contracting out” policy, as they ought to be ensuring that the people already on their payroll are sufficiently trained and skilled to carry out these tasks.

It is clear that the SO/SOSO recruitment process has been rocky - there will still be several SO roles that will remain vacant because of the cull of applicants at the written statement stage.

However, we are satisfied there has been no undue influence from external agents, and the decisions have still been made solely by operational firefighters, collaboratively between state and regional panels.

The UFUQ will not stand in the way of the interviews progressing as scheduled in all regions but for SER. Our dispute specifically relating to the way the process was followed in SER remains, and as such the status quo is maintained and interviews in SER cannot progress until the matter is resolved. Your union has a meeting with Talent Acquisition and HCM on Tuesday 25 August and I will update all members following that meeting on the SER dispute.

The UFUQ will continue to work to ensure that operational experience and other relevant factors are not being overshadowed by irrelevant public service – style ‘creative writing’ assessments.

F & R has agreed that the use of external contractors to provide administrative recruitment services will not be a regular occurrence, and will ensure that early and full consultation is adhered to if they ever consider it again. 

It is clear that this dispute and the resulting delay would have been totally avoided had we been properly consulted, as required under CA19.

To summarise, the dispute relating to the entire state has been withdrawn, following the assurances given by QFRS, however, the SER dispute remains ongoing, and I will provide a further update on Wednesday 26 August 2020 regarding that SER dispute.

John Oliver - General Secretary

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