Firefighters union launches class action against government
QUEENSLAND'S part-time firefighters are copping a raw deal from the state government, according to a class action filed by the United Firefighters' Union Queensland against the state government.
The union alleges these "auxiliary" staff have had no formal pay award since the end of last year after the LNP Government moved legislation to null the agreement.
Much of regional and rural Queensland relies almost entirely on auxiliary firefighters, including huge swathes of central, south-west and south-east parts of the state.
In a statement, the UFUQ said the firefighters worked other jobs but were expected to be available to respond to emergencies "24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all public holidays".
A spokesman for Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Jack Dempsey MP pointed to the government's delivery of a inflation-rate pay increase for auxiliaries.
"The Queensland Government is proactively working with the Queensland Auxiliary Firefighters Association to deliver better outcomes and a fairer award for auxiliaries," he said.
"Earlier this year the Government signed a charter with the Auxiliary Firefighters Association which ensured that auxiliaries voices are heard during decision making. This is the first charter of its kind and delivers on a long held demand of the Association.
"As part of our revitalisation of conditions for auxiliaries we've already delivered a 2.2% pay increase along with other improvements that mean auxiliaries and their families are better off."
The minister did not respond to questions regarding the class action suit.
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State secretary John Oliver said despite the union's attempts to to negotiation with the government, "the Newman Government have not been listening to these firies, have treated them with arrogance and contempt, and is out of touch with what is happening in emergency situations every day".
"We have brought this class action in the face of the government's persistent refusal to treat auxiliary firefighters fairly," he said.
"We are about to enter into one of the most severe fire seasons in decades, it is about time these unfair contracts are fixed.
"Firies are sick of the government playing politics and just want fair employment contracts."
The class action has been lodged with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on behalf of about 2000 Queensland firefighters.
Auxiliary firefighters are used in:
South West Queensland
- St George
"North Coast" Queensland
- Burnett Heads
- Gin Gin
- Coolum Beach
- Rainbow Beach
South East / Brisbane
- Mount Tamborine
- Bribie Island (with single officer)