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On strike: In Australia, New South Wales firefighters & medic refused to respond for five hours. Fire trucks massed at State Parliament.

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New Castle Herald:

About a thousand firefighters in the Hunter, Sydney and Illawarra regions went on strike for five hours yesterday (Thursday) afternoon over the changes that the O’Farrell government wants pushed through NSW Parliament to reduce costs for WorkCover.

Police and other rescue workers have been exempted from the cuts to travel coverage, and a deal struck yesterday with Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile appeared to have added the firefighters to that list during the day.

But Fire Brigade Employees Union sub-branch secretary Luke Russell said he did not believe Mr Nile’s proposals helped firefighters or ambulance officers – who were also exposed to the changes – in any meaningful way.

Mr Russell said the union executive would meet in the coming days to work out its next move.

ABC Sydney:

About 250 stations around the state are closed in the first general strike since 1956.

Fire trucks lined up outside State Parliament after the industrial action began at 1:00pm (AEST), with crews also spraying the building with their hoses.

Firefighters say they will not respond to emergency calls.

The secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union, Jim Casey, says unfortunately, the dispute may be long and bruising.

thewest.com.au:

A man says he is disgusted that his Sydney house burned while firefighters were striking over changes to the workers compensation scheme.

Kym Loutfy’s wife and grandson were rescued from the burning house by a passer-by on Thursday, while firefighters were turning their hoses on Parliament House during a protest.

Firefighters in Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast went on strike for five hours at 1pm (AEST) on Thursday, to protest reforms to workers compensation they say treat them poorly compared to exempt colleagues in the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and police force.

NSW Fire and Rescue said in a statement that crews arrived at the scene within seven minutes of receiving a call from police.

It said local crews on their way to the protest responded to the call and carried out search and rescue operations.

However, they went on to join the protest after the arrival of the Airports Rescue and Firefighting Service.

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