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CFA to march on Bracks

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Thousands of CFA volunteers plan to march in Melbourne in protest of the Bracks Government’s pressure on the CFA Board to sign an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) which empowers the United Fire Fighter’s Union (UFU) to effectively veto decisions affecting CFA volunteers.

Leader of The Nationals, Peter Ryan and Nationals Spokesperson for Police and Emergency Services, Bill Sykes, have both raised concerns about the impact on CFA volunteers.

According to Mr Ryan CFA volunteers were told at a meeting last night that the Bracks Government was applying extreme pressure on the CFA Board to sign the EBA which would continue the power of veto for the UFU; a power which has been severely abused in the past.

“Over 350 CFA volunteers from throughout Victoria from Orbost to the South Australian border responded to the call to hear CFA Board Chairman, Len Foster, explain the gravity of the situation”, Mr Ryan said.

Dr Sykes said, “This matter has been simmering for months – initially the Minister for Police & Emergency Services would not even talk to volunteers about issues in the EBA which impact on volunteers.”

“The Minister then relented and started speaking with CFA volunteers but he has refused to remove from the agreement the conditions that effectively grant the UFU power to veto. Now the UFU is pressuring Mr Bracks who in turn is pressuring Mr Holding and the CFA Board to sign.

According to Dr Sykes the UFU have repeatedly exercised the power of veto, for example, a new fire station was built at Caroline Springs. It had two doors; the UFU wanted only one; $250,000 later there was one door.

The UFU’s industrial action has also put CFA volunteers’ lives at risk. Part of the UFU action involved refusing to refill oxygen cylinders used by fire fighters using breathing apparatus in dense smoke and potentially toxic chemical situations.

Dr Sykes said, “The refusal to fill oxygen cylinders at one location increased the turn around time for oxygen cylinders from 24-48 hours to several days – totally unacceptable union tactics which put the lives of volunteers and country Victorians at increased risk.

Dr Sykes concluded, “I call on the Minister for Police and Emergency Services to stand up to the bullying, blackmail tactics of the UFU and to protect the interests of Victoria’s 58,000 CFA volunteers and the lives and property of the people throughout Victoria serviced so well by the CFA”.


Written by Greg Naylor

13 July 2006 at 9:28 pm

Posted in media release

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