A correspondent with Fire & Rescue NSW asks:
Legally what strike action are we able to do/not do? For example if a NSW government building was on fire and we only saved lives and protected non government buildings, but let the NSW government burn to ground, how would that sit with the law?
I’m not an industrial lawyer so I won’t try to understand all the ins and outs of industrial law, when industrial action is protected etc. What I can say is that the Fair Work Commission can prohibit industrial action that would, or might, cause significant economic harm (Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) s 423) would ‘endanger the life, the personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or of part of it’ or ‘cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it’ (s 424) or will have an ‘the employer, or any of the employers, that will be covered by the agreement (s 426). Deliberately allowing NSW government buildings to burn would or could run foul of all those provisions.
Regardless of any general industrial law principles (that I cannot comment on) I think we could say, with some confidence, that a deliberate policy of allowing ‘the NSW government burn to ground’ would not be lawful nor tolerated.
Why would such a question even be asked.
Because my correspondent “…was curious” as they were “… told by some old firefighters refusing to put out fires in NSW government buildings was something that been threatened many years ago as part of industrial action. That claim surprised me.”
Curious? Thank god for that.
For a second there I though one of our fellow Firey’s was being Seditious. Now it only looks like us here in NSW are dumb as dog sh!t
Either way, considering the calibre of your audience, who are mostly the emergency service and law enforcement community of Aust, I gotta say I’m a little embarrassed that someone in my service asked this.
I’m not an industrial lawyer either but I can answer this question.
Mate! What do you think?