Firefighter's union fights NSW Government for pay rise

Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters worked numerous fires across NSW during the unprecedented start to the fire season in late 2019. Photo: Nick Moir
Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters worked numerous fires across NSW during the unprecedented start to the fire season in late 2019. Photo: Nick Moir

The Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) says firefighters feel "undervalued" by the state government's delay in giving them a pay rise.

The FBEU has been negotiating the salary increase with Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and the NSW Government since October last year.

However, Macarthur's Liberal politicians say they are hopeful that the issue will be resolved soon.

FBEU NSW state secretary Leighton Drury said the union had been negotiating the pay rise with FRNSW before the bushfire season started in 2019.

"The unprecedented fire season and national emergency have delayed the progress of our negotiations as our members' focus has been on fighting fires and keeping the community safe," he said.

"The FBEU and its members have been very restrained in what we have been seeking from the government.

"We have only asked for what the rest of the public sector has received, the standard government 2.5 per cent annual wage increase, but the NSW government will not even agree to this.

"The government's attitude is an indication of how little value they place on the work of firefighters, who are exposed to toxic chemicals daily and are at a severely high risk of experiencing post-traumatic stress and other health-related problems."

Camden MP Peter Sidgreaves and Wollondilly MP Nat Smith (Liberal) said they were advised that FRNSW was still in award negotiations with the FBEU.

"Approval has been granted by the NSW Government's Wages Policy Taskforce to offer firefighters an increase to salary and salary-related allowances of up to 2.5 per cent per annum for one year, payable from the first pay period on or after February 17, 2020," they said.

"Once the current Award issues are negotiated and hopefully resolved, FRNSW (and the FBEU) will need to have the award approved by Public Sector Industrial Relations and the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

"The NSW Government hopes to have this addressed as soon as practical."

However, both Mr Sidgreaves and Mr Smith did not acknowledge that they believe firefighters were entitled to the pay rise, or if firefighters had a right to feel undervalued by the government due to this delay.

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren (Labor) slammed the state government's inaction on this issue.

"It is nothing short of a disgrace," he said.

"Politicians are entitled to a 2.5 per cent pay increase - if it is good enough for them why it is not good enough for our firefighters?

"This is a mob who crow that they are 'friends of the worker', but they say one thing and do another thing entirely.

"I think firefighters, emergency service personnel and every worker in the state are the backbone of the NSW economy."

This story Firefighter's union fights NSW Government for pay rise first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.