CODE 2, VOL 36, NO 4 : 01 february 2022
UPDATE ON CONSULTATION PROCESSES REGARDING COMMISSIONER’S CONSIDERATION OF A COVID-19 VACCINATION MANDATE
As advised on 24 January 2022, the UFUQ state office reached out to QFES shortly after Commissioner Leach emailed all staff to advise that he is considering the possibility of introducing a covid-19 vaccination mandate to confirm no decision has yet been made on the matter and to make arrangements for consultation processes with UFUQ SCM representatives.
As you will recall, I also advised that I will ensure that the group of SCM representatives engaging in the UFUQ consultation processes with QFES are made up of a cross section of SCM representatives that represent the differing views of UFUQ members (including those that are opposed to the mandate).
I provide this update to members to keep you informed of the UFUQ consultation processes that have occurred to date:
1. On Tuesday 25 January 2022, I wrote to Commissioner Leach with a request for information on what authority he believed he may rely on to enact any potential mandate (this was also queried by other unions, and many of you) for the purposes of understanding whether or not he has a valid authority to do so.
2. In response to my request for this information (and similar requests made by other stakeholders), that afternoon, QFES provided to the UFUQ and other stakeholders (including, but not limited to, unions, HSRs, WHS Committee Chairs, and Regional Safety and Wellbeing Officers) a draft of the Direction the Commissioner would rely upon.
3. Some of your SCM representatives have raised concerns with the draft Direction on your behalf and I am currently seeking legal advice regarding those concerns.
4. On Friday 28 January 2022, some of your SCM representatives (representing the differing views of UFUQ members, including those that oppose a mandate) met with QFES representatives to provide feedback and ask questions about a potential mandate, including about the draft Direction. This engagement generally covered the following themes (but was not limited to only these themes):
a. The reason for introducing the mandate at this time.
b. Other measures QFES are taking to control exposure to covid-19.
c. CHO advice.
d. Clarification of the purpose of the draft Direction.
e. Risk assessment.
f. Impact on those choosing not to be vaccinated.
g. Service delivery.
h. A range of matters that will require further consultation if the Commissioner determines to introduce the mandate, such as how exemptions will work, or how it will work for employees waiting on alternative vaccines.
i. The reason for applying the mandate to some employee groups and not others.
j. The reasons why some members choose to be vaccinated and the reasons why others do not.
5. As a result of this engagement, QFES have agreed to provide answers to a range of questions raised by your SCM representatives that were taken on notice, and to provide additional information for your SCM representatives to consider.
6. Your SCM representatives await that information and will meet again with QFES this week for further engagement and discussion about that information after it is received.
I again encourage all members, irrespective of your view on this matter, to take up Commissioner Leach’s offer to provide feedback directly to QFES if you seek to do so. You can email that feedback to [email protected].
I will provide a further update as this matter progresses.
John Oliver - General Secretary
Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD