I first joined what was then the NSW Fire Brigades in 1999. At the time, I was a fencer and did a job for a firie who talked about the job and essentially recruited me. He said it was the best job in the world and we still agreed about this 18 years later when I spoke at his send off.
I grew up in Western Sydney and I have four kids, all born after I became a firie. One of the things I love about our job was it let me be the kids primary carer while I was on the trucks.
I’ve been stationed at 27 station Parramatta, 67 station Northmead, and 50 station Hornsby. I am a Bronto operator.
Compared to my friends in other industries, we have a highly unionised job, and that was something I identified early on as a reason our job was a good one. We don’t have casual employees, which is almost unheard of. We have a job that can last an entire career lifetime, when most people change jobs every three to four years.
The issue/dispute that got me involved in the Union was the LSV/ Waratah station dispute. I joined the Sub-Branch executive and our next issue was MFR. Our Sub-Branch held one of the largest Sub-Branch meeting in the FBEU’s history. This issue has evolved through our Sub-Branch.
One of the things I’m proudest of as Sydney Central West Sub Branch Secretary was flexible rostering, which enabled 24 hour shifts. This was done over a period of 18 months as I worked to organise the State Committee to adopt the position that 24 hour shifts was a viable option and would be popular with the membership. The membership agreed, voting up the shifts that most permanent firefighters now work. This was organised and trialled in my Sub-Branch, and I led this change through the State Committee. I also piloted the email newsletter that has been used by other Sub-Branches, which I rolled out as State Secretary last year. We should make the best possible use of technology to stay in touch with members- as we have throughout Covid 19.
As State Secretary I’m proudest that we are organising in our union to give members power and control. When I because State Secretary, we didn’t know how many delegates we had. We now have over 160 and we are aiming for on in each station, so members have control and have a say. We have elected a WHS committee and HSRs, to give control of safety in the workplace back to members.
I want firefighters to be in control of the decisions that affect our lives- industrial and political. In terms of the specifics, you can read my platform here. I want to see our job grow because we are the best at it and I love being a firie. I believe workers should have dignity and fair wages at work, and I believe our union needs to be well run- by members. That’s also why I’ve helped out candidates at elections and at by elections, and why I’ve been to every May Day since I became active in the Union, and why I work hard to have relationships with MPs of all political parties to lobby for our interests and to make us an active us of the Union movement. I work with leaders form other unions all over Australia to achieve this.