AUXILIARY UPDATE : 25 May 2015
Question about your auxiliary award asked in parliament
Another written question on notice has been asked in parliament about your auxiliary award. A number of questions were asked during the last parliament, under the LNP majority government.
On May 20th, KAP MP Shane Knuth asked the fire and emergency services minister the following written question:
MR KNUTH (KAP) ASKED THE MINISTER FOR POLICE, FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
AND MINISTER FOR CORRECTIVE SERVICES (HON J MILLER)―
“Will the Minister advise of any steps being taken to ensure that auxiliary firefighters are provided with an industrial award and what progress has been made regarding this matter?”
A written answer is due by 19 June 2015.
Submissions to parliamentary committee inquiry on new industrial laws
The state government has introduced new industrial laws designed to reverse some of the laws introduced by the former government. Your union made written submissions to the parliamentary committee inquiry and appeared in person before the committee.
Your union highlighted the complicated and time consuming processes currently occupying QIRC arising from the “modernisation” of awards for employees who already have an award and arbitration of certified agreements for employees who already have an agreement.
Your union highlighted to the committee that while the QIRC is pre - occupied with a range of other matters, the tribunal has been unable to produce a first award for auxiliary firefighters in 3 years of dealing with the issue.
Your union stated to MP’s at the public hearing:
“While the time consuming award modernisation processes were being embarked upon by QIRC, it is instructive to note that a significant group of dedicated state government employees, namely, auxiliary firefighters, have been unable to attain a basic first award from the QIRC in approximately 3 years of trying”.
The fire service still haven’t responded to your union about the proposed content of an award to cover auxiliary firefighters.
Your union has raised our concerns about this issue with the new government and the fire service minister.
The new state government has confirmed to your union, its pre-election commitment to working with UFUQ to ensure that auxiliary firefighters attain an award containing fair employment conditions.
Prior to the last election, your union secured commitments from both major political parties to support the making of an award for auxiliary firefighters.
We have been advised that the new government expect the fire service to put more work into negotiating the terms of an auxiliary award.
As previously reported, your union wrote to every MP in the new parliament explaining the efforts made by your union to win your first award, and the legal obstacles used by the fire service to deny your right to a fair hearing about the respect of basic employment conditions.
We expect your award matter to progress over the next few months.
Award modernisation and legislative changes
As we previously reported, the fire service previously obstructed and delayed your auxiliary award application progressing, by trying to entangle it with the “award modernisation” of existing fire service awards that apply to employees who already have an award.
The former and current governments both subsequently agreed that auxiliaries should be entitled to have their own award application and it should not be confused with the modernisation of existing awards.
The new government has suspended the process of “award modernisation” now pending legislative changes about the content of awards.
The prospective legislative changes to award content are likely to delay the finalisation of your auxiliary award, even though it is not an existing award being "modernised".
Auxiliary firefighters are the only group of wages employees in the public sector that do not have an award.
The threshold issues about what minimum pay and condition should apply to your work, especially on-call, night work, public holidays and weekends are able to be discussed in advance of changing legislation about award content.
We may have to consider negotiating changes to the “standing order” until new legislation allows your award to be made in a timely fashion.
Unfair Contracts Case
As previously advised, the fire service appealed against the QIRC decision to refuse their “strike out” application of the unfair contracts case. Their appeal was heard in the industrial court on 27 April 2015.
The fire service submitted to the industrial court that auxiliary firefighters have no rights to agree or disagree with, or negotiate the employment conditions set by the fire service commissioner, and that you only have one choice, and that is whether to take it or leave it.
The fire service also submitted to the court that the QIRC cannot overide the fire service commissioner’s decisions about what employment conditions you get. The fire service argued that the fire service commissioner’s authority overruled any QIRC deliberations or decisions about whether your employment conditions are “fair” or not.
The fire service maintained its arguments that the "unfair contracts" case should be “struck out” and the only way QIRC can improve your employment conditions is by making an award.
I’m sure auxiliary firefighters will remember the fire service arguing for your award application to be “struck out" as well!
Your union’s barrister argued to the court that auxiliary firefighters had rights to a proper QIRC hearing about arguments that auxiliary employment conditions are unfair, and below minimum award standards.
Fairness and respect will prevail
Auxiliary firefighter work is not all about the money. However, there is a fundamental lack of respect in refusing to provide even basic award standards that every other employee has. This lack of respect is further obvious when applications made on auxiliaries’ behalf are met with "strike out" applications and attempts to stop your case even being heard at all! The submissions to the industrial court by the fire service were revealing, according to the fire service you have no say in your employment conditions whatsoever! The fire service commissioner decides and you have no capacity to do anything about it!
It might not be just about the money, but auxiliaries are entitled to the basic respect of community standard employment conditions attached to work you perform for the fire service and the community.
The fire service will eventually have to provide auxiliary firefighters with the basic respect of fair employment conditions applied to the valuable work you perform.
As long as your union maintains our pressure fairness will prevail.
We need all auxiliary firefighters to join with us to ensure we bring these long drawn out battles to a satisfactory result.
Become a member of UFUQ and show your support
2014 saw many new members join or re-join UFUQ. We want to continue to increase our strength in 2015.
Become a member of your union to show you are standing with your auxiliary colleagues as we continue the fight to improve your employment conditions and wages.
As a member, you also have access to the many benefits of coverage you will receive from a registered industrial organisation.
If you are already a member of UFUQ, now is the time to discuss membership of your union with your auxiliary colleagues.
Existing members who refer new members will receive a new auxiliary UFUQ t-shirt in 2015, upon the new member becoming financial (one t-shirt per year for existing members).
Your union continues to send a strong and clear message to QFES and the government about your employment conditions. We are showing them that we have the support of auxiliaries in our efforts to win fair employee conditions for you.
UFUQ needs your support now and will be there to support you should you ever need us!
Have a question or want to organise a station visit?
In 2014, UFUQ representatives visited almost 60 auxiliary stations.
No one but UFUQ can get, or is getting, to that many stations to talk to auxiliary firefighters about their individual, local station and state wide issues, not even QFES.
The plan for 2015 includes many more station visits.
Contact the state office if you would like to organise someone to discuss what the union is doing with members and potential members in a visit to your station.
Station visits can be done in person, via teleconference or via Skype.
The station visits can be done on training nights, or another night as arranged. If we haven’t seen you, we hope to see you in 2015!
Auxiliaries are represented on the state committee of management of the union and there is a standing agenda item for an auxiliary update to be given at every union executive meeting.
You can contact the state office at any time to discuss membership, or any other matter affecting your employment.