May 2019 Speaker, Greg McConville; & Harry Wall

Jane welcomed Greg McConville from the United Firefighters’ Union (ACT Branch) to the May meeting.

Greg discussed the current dispute between the union and the ACT Labor Government. The issue concerns overtime payments to firefighters who worked consecutive shifts without an 8-hour break in between as required. ACT Fire and Rescue doesn’t have enough firefighters to fill a safe roster. They need more to cover those who are injured, sick, on leave, or in training.

The UFU is also proposing an updated skills training regime, better and earlier health interventions (globally, only firefighters have won pre-emptive rights in workers’ compensation: any ACT firefighter who is diagnosed with cancer is presumed to have got it through their work); as well as a number of other extra items in the enterprise agreement – many of which would save money, such as lowering workers comp premiums.

Firefighters in the ACT were offered a 10% pay rise, but rejected it, believing that the money should be invested instead in community safety.

Earlier Jane welcomed Harry Wall to the meeting, for an overview of the election result and the Vintage Reds’ volunteer effort in Gilmore. Harry is the ACTU manager of the Change the Rules campaign in Gilmore. He thanked the VRs for their work in the electorate.

The ACTU concentrated on ten seats, but only Gilmore was won, by the ALP. Its candidate, Fiona Phillips, had been door-knocking and working across the electorate for four years. The ALP primary vote dropped there by under 2%; the Mundine (Liberal) primary vote held in some areas such as Berry, but the conservative vote was split by the independent candidate, Grant Schultz, and the Nationals. Harry had looked at the numbers in individual booths across Gilmore and reckons that the Vintage Reds’ work contributed to the win.