You may remember that during the Newman LNP years, Queensland’s firefighters faced direct and unrelenting attacks in an ideological war to privatise the fire service. The UFUQ has a membership density of close to 99% of QFES professional firefighters, and at no time in recent history have the members been stronger and more united than during the term of the LNP Newman government.
In 2013, as a show of strength, the union began distributing UFUQ branded stickers to each member. The members made a habit of sticking these to the front of their helmets, which are technically the property of the employer, the Fire and Rescue Service.
This practice was a source of irritation to many within the Fire and Rescue Service’s senior ranks, and we had reports of some senior officers driving station to station to peel the stickers off. When petty, anti-union policies came in prohibiting the practice, the members continued to do it as a show of defiance.
This went on for many years, with the union stepping in to defend the practice whenever an issue was raised by the senior officers.
As a result of this unrelenting pressure, the fire service has finally consented to allowing the helmet stickers, citing the Queensland Government’s commitment to union encouragement. From 2017, members will be able to identify themselves as union members through a sticker on their helmet, without harassment from their managers.
This win is the latest in what has been a very successful few years for the UFUQ. We have gained an award for auxiliary firefighters, presumptive legislation for firefighters diagnosed with a range of cancers, and we have had many of the LNP’s structural changes to the service reversed.
It is important to remember that this success derives first and foremost from the comradery of Queensland’s firefighters and from the faith they vest collectively in their union.