CODE 2, VOL 34, NO 49 : 10 september 2020
IPSWICH SOSO/SO RECRUITMENT DISPUTE
On 9 September 2020, the QIRC heard our dispute regarding the SOSO/SO recruitment process in Ipswich.
As you’ll recall, our dispute relates to Fire and rescue’s decision to interview SOSO applicants to fill an Ipswich SO vacancy, even though there are Leading Firefighter applicants who haven’t progressed to interview.
It is our view that this is an unprecedented set of circumstances, and that SOSOs have never been hired in positions while there are LFFs available.
We made it very clear to the QIRC and to the fire service that allowing senior firefighters to leapfrog leading firefighters for station officer roles is blatantly unfair and very poor practice.
We told them that this dispute has wide ranging implications, including to health and safety and public liability, that go to the heart of the QFRS rank structure that has been built up and respected for generations.
We worked in good faith with the fire service to find a way to go forward, to deal with the current process and to ensure that this never happens again.
Every scenario was considered, but all either unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged someone. In the end it was agreed that current process in Ipswich could conclude, on a few conditions:
· That another SO recruitment process will be run in the coming weeks to fill the remaining 4 vacancies in Ipswich.
· That Fire and rescue will ONLY consider applicants at the rank of LFF for this process.
· That the LFFs in Ipswich be given support and training regarding the written assessment as well as detailed feedback on their recent unsuccessful applications.
We also wrote the following statement that was agreed to by Fire and rescue, and that was read into the transcript by the commission:
The parties acknowledge that there needs to be a clearly understood and fair pathway from senior firefighter to station officer that recognises the importance of operational skills and leadership qualities in a station environment.
QFES and UFUQ commit to continue working together to create a single selection and training process that meets this objective.
Until this process is completed, SOSO applications will only be considered for any SO vacancy when the LFF application process has been exhausted.
It is clear from this state-wide SO recruitment process that we have a big fight ahead of us to stop yet another example of the creeping influence of the public service mentality to the detriment of the work of you and your colleagues. It is of paramount importance that firefighters retain control of recruitment and selection, as only we understand what it takes to form part of, and lead, a crew.
John Oliver - General Secretary
Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD