Fire-fighter cuts to go ahead – Minister
STATE Emergency Services Minister, Michael Gallacher, says he’ss made it clear to fire-fighters that the government is sticking to its plans to cut costs.
Mr Gallacher and the Fire Brigades Employees Union (FBEU) met in Sydney yesterday (Thursday) before the union entered a private mediation session with Fire and Rescue New South Wales in front of the industrial umpire.
The union is fighting against $64 million of budget cuts to employee entitlements planned over four years, which it says will result in the temporary closure of fire stations.
Following the meeting, FBEU state secretary, Jim Casey, said Mr Gallacher has promised to raise the issue of temporary fire station closures when Cabinet meets next week.
Today (Friday), Mr Gallacher says he has stressed to the union that the budget cuts will go ahead.
“I said to them we are proceeding with the saving strategy,” Mr Gallacher told journalists in Sydney.
“I have indicated to them that I wish them to continue discussing alternative saving measures with (NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins).
“But at the end of the day that is a matter for Mr Mullins in terms of where those savings need to be made.”
In the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) hearing yesterday, Justice Frances Backman ordered a week-long delay in the policy of having up to eight Sydney fire stations temporarily shut down a day so fire-fighters can fill shortages elsewhere.
The IRC case continues next Thursday.
Meanwhile, while Fire and Rescue NSW acting deputy commissioner, Jim Hamilton, says closures will only affect a small number of stations in the Sydney metropolitan areas – not regional areas – Mr Casey reportedly has reiterated that everyone will be exposed and at risk.