|Issue No 25||06 August 1999|
Fire Fighters Use Net
The Internet has emerged as a key campaign tool in the NSW fire fighters ongoing campaign to secure uniform death and disability insurance for all members.
As the dispute enters its second week, rank and file members have been receiving daily updates on the progress of negotiations from the Fire Brigade Employees' Union home page.
With senior officials caught in the Industrial Relations Commission most days, the new modes of communications has allowed them to maintain contact with members, trade unions and the media.
When the union agreed to suspend industrial bans, the information - and reasons behind the decision - were broadcast over the Net. When talks broke down, the bans were reimposed, again by a virtual order.
The FBEU has pioneered the use of Internet communications, with most fire stations having net access and members being comfortable with the technology.
As the dispute loomed, the union placed relevant background material such as comparisons between firefighters income protection and that enjoyed by state politicians on the net, for both members and the media to refer to.
Sydney Morning Herald journalist Mark Robinson, who has been covering the dispute, says the use of the Internet has been a revelation.
"It's another source of information - it means you don't have to constantly call union officials for updates at difficult times, particularly during a big dispute."
A mass meeting of fire fighters today rejected a state government offer and have reimposed bans of the weekend, meaning that firefighters employed since 1985 will not answer emergency calls. At press time, the Union and the government were before the Industrial Relations Commission.
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