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Money comes and goes but conditions are gold

Between them there’s almost 60 years experience working in Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV - previously MFB) maintenance. AMWU Delegates for 16 years, Darren Darling and Harry Hollis were key players when it came to negotiating Protect income protection into their latest EBA.

“We’d heard about Protect and what firies are saying about it. We wanted that safety net that if something does happen outside of work you can be protected.”

(L-R) Darren & Harry

Darren:

FRV maintenance is a 24/7 operation. We do scheduled servicing, maintenance, accident repairs, modification work. You’ve got mechanics, fitter and turners, auto electricians, spray painters, body builders, trimmers. There’s a broad range of expertise. It’s a one stop shop, we pretty much do everything. We go out to fires as well, for ground duties; refueling, doing break downs. And as soon as there’s a third alarm we’re there. They class the capacity of an incident, with a normal fire one truck might put it out, by the third alarm it’s been escalated to more vehicles, it might be twenty vehicles, and then we get notified to be there.

Harry:

There’s over 125 fire trucks in Victoria and on top of that, you have all of the ancillary stuff; pods, boats, low loaders, aerials. Pods are like containers that they bring on the back of hook trucks and they offload them at the scene. In them there’s all types of specialty lifesaving equipment, so it’s not only the trucks that we work on. You can work on anything from a chainsaw all the way up to a bronto skylift which goes 40 metres up into the air, so that’s the cross reference of skills that we have here.

It’s a good place to work. People aren’t here for one or two years, it’s double figures all the way through. The conditions that we have are due to being part of a strong union.

Money comes and goes but conditions are gold. If you lose those conditions because you fought so hard to build on them through years and years and years, if you lose them, it’s not like dollars can get them back. Conditions are gold.

Darren:

Those conditions make our working environment, it’s why people stay here for a long period of time. I can see, from the day I started to today, how much the union have got for the guys on the floor. Like a lot of work by our union. Tony Mav’s put us on the map in regards to our pay and conditions.

 

Money comes and goes but conditions are gold. If you lose those conditions because you fought so hard to build on them through years and years and years, if you lose them, it’s not like dollars can get them back. Conditions are gold.

Harry:

We’ve got 100% sign up, we’re all union members and come EBA time the union really show their strength in the sense of what’s on the table. There’s things you’ll die in the ditch for, like income protection. We wanted that this time because we’d been knocked back twice before and it was time that we had it.

Darren: We came in as delegates during a transition from being anti-management. I didn’t see it as a good way of negotiating. We’re pretty firm, if we believe in something we’ll fight it tooth and nail but I think there’s other ways around negotiating to get your outcome, and what we’ve got today is pretty good from that approach.

But with income protection, we wanted it and we weren’t leaving the table until we got it. Negotiations came to a grind at one stage, and we had to take protected action.

Harry:

It was enough to put the pressure on. Because we’re a 100% union shop it’s something we’re all fighting for, everyone’s got skin in the game, so everyone knows you can’t take your foot off the peddle. Income protection wasn’t just given to us, we had to put on bans and we had to fight for it.

We’d heard about Protect and what firies are saying about it. We wanted that safety net that if something does happen outside of work you can be protected.

Darren:

I had my own income protection but it wasn’t near what Protect offered. I’ve just cancelled that after 37 years. With that mob you had to exhaust all your sick leave before being able to make a claim. I had to use all of that first before they’d cover me. So it was a no brainer for me to stop it.

Harry:

Protect’s already been accessed here, one of the guys hurt himself. And the guy just started virtually. We got our EBA signed off and it’s all tickety boo and then weeks after he hurts himself after hours, so his income protection kicked in. So the proof is there. He wouldn’t have had any type of entitlements, he would have had to fend for himself, with no sick leave, or annual leave, so it’s been great. It should be part of a package for all the workforce. Employers would attract better quality workers as well, having that available to people.

Darren:

My advice to other delegates looking to bring in income protection? Get on it. Don’t hesitate. Fight to get on it too.

Income protection win for FRV maintenance workers

Income protection win for FRV maintenance workers

A MESSAGE FROM AMWU VIC SECRETARY, TONY MAVROMATIS

When it comes to EBA negotiations, we at the AMWU have a simple and straightforward attitude, to deliver the best possible package for our members that we can, and that’s precisely what we do!

Our members working in maintenance at Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) can attest to that.

FRV is the latest in a growing number of sites where we’ve secured Protect income protection insurance for our members.

Initially, FRV had been reluctant to make the switch, stating they were ‘locked in’ to their current provider. Numerous challenging debates and robust negotiations later, site organiser Alistair Thomas and State Secretary Tony Mavromatis, with the help of our site delegates Harry, Darren and Warren, managed to change the company’s mind.

The key to the switch was using the framework from a previous agreement that FRV had existing. Utilising this framework, the union were able to secure the total Protect package and income protection of 104 weeks for our members.

It’s crucial we highlight the role played by our delegates during negotiations.

Delegates played a really integral part in promoting Protect and its benefits to the members. They were immense support to the AMWU in making sure we got the deal over the line.

Members and delegates prove to be crucial around EBA time, but their day to day operations at FRV play a vital role in helping to save lives all around Victoria. The AMWU’s membership base at FRV is predominantly made up of mechanical fitters and diesel mechanics. It’s these workers that are responsible for maintaining FRV’s fleet of fire trucks. They meticulously comb over each and every vehicle in the fleet, ensuring that they run smoothly without a hitch. Providing firefighters with invaluable peace of mind, allowing them to focus on the job at hand.

Published Monday 5 July, 2021