• Publication Date: September 30, 2008
  • EAN: 9781862876934
  • 176 pages; 6" x 8⅝"

Against All Odds

The history of the United Firefighters Union in Queensland, 1917-2008


Product Description

The history of the United Firefighters Union (UFU) in Queensland is an unusual and inspiring story. In an era of large amalgamated unions it remains a small union, servicing the special needs of firefighters and at a time when only 20 percent of Australian workers belong to a trade union the UFU still commands the loyalty of virtually all Queensland firefighters.

While most Australian unions have been in existence since at least the early twentieth century the UFU was only registered in Queensland in 1976. Prior to this date, firefighters belonged to the Australian Workers Union. They only secured their own union after a bitter four-year dispute in Rockhampton that involved the dismissal and eventual reinstatement of that city’s UFU firefighters.

If the UFU is an unusual union then firefighters are also atypical unionists. Most of their working lives are spent carrying out routine training drills. But, at any moment, this routine can be interrupted by a ‘call-out’ where they can be exposed to mayhem and traumatic death. Fire fighting demands the highest levels of physical fitness, experience and courage. It also requires the capacity to behave, in all circumstances, as a team member rather than as an individual.

While a sense of ‘mateship’ is common in most jobs the dangers inherent in fire fighting create special bonds. Such bonds have created a unique, tightly-knit workforce whose solidarity is reflected in their union.

Firefighters and Fire Fighting: An Historical Overview
The British tradition
Brisbane’s great fire and a system of fire brigades
The slow march towards professionalism

Queensland Firefighters and the AWU, 1917-1962
Joining the ‘fighting’ AWU: early achievement, 1917-1937
Disillusionment: the first breakaway attempt, 1937-1951
Renewing the battle: the second breakaway attempt
UFU Branch established, 1960-1962

Leaving the AWU, 1962-1970
The UFU: a real alternative
Maintaining support, 1967-1968
The battle for industrial recognition, 1968-1969
Firefighters and officers part ways, 1969-1970

The Rockhampton dispute and state registration, 1970-1976
The situation in Rockhampton
The dismissal of Rockhampton’s UFU firefighters
To the courts
An old Chev: Rockhampton 1970-1974
Industrial gains, 1971-1975
Victory in Rockhampton, 1973-1975
Registration and final hurdles, 1974-1976

New challenges and old legacies, 1976-1987
New challenges
‘We’re still basically amateurs’
New divisions and old legacies

Achievement and division, 1987-1996
A new fire service: Better equipped and safer?
New wages system, 1987-1991
Internal rifts and union restructuring, 1988-1992
Final battle with the AWU, 1993-1994
Workplace reform and new leaderships, 1994-1996

New directions and challenges, 1996-2008
Transformation of the fire service
Enterprise bargaining
Union stability and renewal
‘A festering sore’: the battle for safe crewing
Auxiliary firefighters
International solidarity and the campaign for firefighter safety


Appendix A –
List of Sacked UFU Firefighters at Rockhampton, 1970-1974
Notes on Sources

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