Back our CFA volunteers | May 05, 2016
Bath fights for rights of CFA volunteers
Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath has come out fighting in parliament this week for the rights of the Country Fire Authority following rows over a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA).
Negotiations over the EBA have sparked concerns amongst volunteer firefighters particularly over the inclusion of a United Fire Fighters Union (UFU) veto board which would result in the CFA losing control over certain decisions regarding operations, equipment, clothing and vehicles.
“This goes against the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 which states that all brigades shall be under the order and control of the chief officer,” Ms Bath told the parliament.
Ms Bath said she supported both paid and unpaid firefighters and was not against people receiving decent wages and working conditions however it was vital the CFA still retained independence.
“Taking control away from the CFA will crush the organisation and deter volunteers and these changes have been made so that Mr Andrews can pay back favours done for him during the election,” she said.
Ms Bath has been contacted by a large number of concerned constituents over the issue and quoted, in parliament, one CFA volunteer with over 40 years of experience:
“The UFU should have no expectations that they can override the CFA board, the CEO, the chief officer on operational, resourcing or equipment decisions. Their EBA should not include anything that directly or even indirectly discriminates against volunteers or prevents the CFA from effectively supporting or deploying volunteers.”
Ms Bath has now called on the Emergency Services Minister to meet with a Gippsland delegation to show her support for the CFA remaining autonomous and independent.
She said Gippsland had experienced many horrific fires including Black Saturday and for many smaller towns the CFA was the backbone of their communities with volunteers working hard to protect life and property.
“I hope that the Premier and the minister and parties can come to a sensible EBA agreement that respects and supports the Country Fire Authority and that keeps it remaining as an independent and autonomous body so that the CFA in turn can do what it does best, which is protecting our lives, protecting our homes and protecting our communities, and long may it do so into the future.”
Caption 1: Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath with CFA members Peter Hanily (Koonwarra), Ross Considine (Koonwarra), Wayne Walker (Koonwarra), Hilco Zuidemia (Leongatha South), Darren Hardacre (Ruby) and Chris Buxton (Pound Creek).
Caption 2: Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath with Warragul CFA members Tim Moss and Brian Brewer.