Firies Turn Up The Heat On Barry

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NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union went on strike yesterday to protest Premier Barry O’Farrell’s cuts to the state’s workers compensation scheme. The firies won a last-minute concession, exempting them from many of the new changes. New Matilda attended the dramatic protest, which put a stop to business-as-usual at NSW Parliament with deafening sirens.

 

Photo: New Matilda

Striking members of the Fire Brigade Employees Union march down Macquarie Street. Union members voted to strike for five hours yesterday in protest against the O’Farrell Governments proposed changes to WorkCover. It was the first major firefighters’ strike in NSW since 1956.

 

Photo: New Matilda

Jim Casey, State Secretary of the FBEU, addressed the rally about the need for dangerous work to be protected. When he finished speaking, the crowd started to chant "water on, water on". From a crane perched several stories above Macquarie St, Parliament House got hosed down. The roof of the building was drenched to roaring applause.

Photo: New Matilda

Firefighters listen to Adam Rorris of the South Coast Labor Council, who compered the rally. Mark Lennon, General Secretary of Unions NSW congratulated FBEU members and called the rally a "truly remarkable scene".

Photo: New Matilda

O’Farrell’s WorkCover laws were passed in the early hours of this morning. The firefighters won a last-minute exemption following yesterday’s protests. Further industrial action by public sector workers is expected.

 

Photo: New Matilda

Firetrucks banked up down Macquarie St. Premier Barry O’Farrell described the strike action as "one of the most irresponsible actions I’ve ever heard of from a public sector union in the history of this state".

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