The Fire Service has advised the Union of Regional Seminars being held to discuss Absence Management.

Unfortunately, this notification was after the first such seminar had been held, and without any consultation with the Union over the content of the seminars.

The Union has made it clear on any number of occasions that it does not condone abuse of sick leave. In making this statement, the Union is not in any way accepting that there is abuse of sick leave.

What the Union does not accept is the employer proceeding unilaterally, with no consultation, to hold such seminars, and the Union disagrees with the content of the seminars. So much for the commitment to Partnership.

Despite the claim of the Fire Service that absence due to sickness/injury is an ongoing problem for Fire Service managers, the latest statistics clearly demonstrate a trending down of call backs to cover sick leave, and the consequent cost.

Particularly given the way the Fire Service has proceeded with these seminars, the Union advises Union officials and Union members not to participate and not to operate any new procedures that may be attempted to be introduced.

Of equal concern is the attitude adopted by Steven Fraser (Senior Advisor – Employee Relations, who conducted the seminar.

Reports from members who attended the first seminar advise:

“All members present were less than happy with Fraser’s presentation style. It came at a point when discussing the financial implications of the absentees. Fraser had already stated he was a volley. He got on his high horse saying that firefighters should work for their money, not sleep etc. That he had to respond to calls at night and he didn’t get paid. When challenged that he chose to do that, he got wound up even more. CFO Kerrisk tried to intervene to quell what could have led to an argument.

This was for the other SSOs, their first contact with him. The group response was that Steven Fraser was a "tosser”

Obviously the Union is concerned at the attitude of hostility expressed by someone whose title is “Senior Advisor – Employee Relations” and this is not the first report of such hostility. The Union therefore sees the need, and most unfortunately, the likelihood of “Employee Relations” trending downwards rapidly.

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