Australia –– NATIONAL parks and forestry staff in NSW are refusing to help fight major bushfires until their accident compensation packages are brought into line with emergency service workers.
Parks and forestry staff are often the first to discover bushfires and where possible they help tackle them in conjunction with full-time firefighters, the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) says.
But on Tuesday, AWU members who are NSW National Parks and Forests NSW staff voted to indefinitely stop “high risk” firefighting, including working in helicopters and felling trees.
They are demanding the same accident and injury compensation packages received by full-time firefighters.
“We’ve got people right on the frontline and we’re saying unless we’ve got coverage the same as what is being given to firefighters, we’re not going to do it,” AWU NSW secretary Russ Collison.
“I’m not going to allow people to be exposed to that sort of danger … without having any recourse as far as worker’s comp is concerned.” The NSW government recently stripped away a number of public sector compensation benefits, but exempted firefighters and other emergency services.
Mr Collison said the work ban would continue until the government offered parks and forest field officers parity.