CODE 2, VOL 34, NO 47 : 07 september 2020
Unfortunately for all involved, the drama surrounding the current SO recruitment process continues to unfold.
In an unprecedented move, QFRS are seeking to fill SO positions in Ipswich with applicants at the rank of SFF, even though there are LFF’s in the region (fresh off the ODP), who want the job.
For over 50 years, QFRS has had comprehensive and well defined pathway for Senior Firefighters to progress to the rank of Station Officer. This has been called the Station Officer Program, Leading Firefighter development program, and now, the ODP.
In 2008, your union agreed to vary this process ONLY where there were insufficient numbers of LFFs to fill SO vacancies. We agreed that SOSOs could be used in these positions only in these circumstances.
And in 2020 we agreed to concurrent processes, but on the understanding that substantive Station Officers would be considered first, then Leading Firefighters, and only then SOSO’s. So whilst all the applications came in at once, we never agreed to them being considered against each other and/or all at the same time. That idea does not make any sense and it was never what your union thought was the intent of a concurrent application process.
What’s going on now in Ipswich is a mess. QFRS are effectively treating LFFs and SFFs as if they have the same qualifications, with some progressing to interview from each group, and some from each group missing out.
It’s as if the ODP means nothing. This is a serious departure to accepted practice, and one your union has serious concerns about.
Your union would absolutely not stand in the way of SFFs being offered SOSO positions if there were no LFF applicants, but this is not the case here. For QFRS to have barrelled down this path, is unfair on the SFFs who have validly put in applications, and may have even progressed to interview.
The SFF members who have applied should get a go, but to cull LFF applicants even before interview undervalues the entire ODP course, and throws out generations of fire service custom and practice.
Your union has been forced to involve the QIRC and QFRS must keep their recruitment process on hold while this occurs. There is a conciliation conference scheduled at QIRC Wednesday 9 September 2020 and I will provide a further update following that conference.
We do not want to draw this out longer than it needs to, but it is an important issue that we cannot let fester.
John Oliver - General Secretary
Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD