Supreme court stalls firefighter agreement

The Supreme Court yesterday barred CFA employees from voting on its controversial enterprise bargaining agreement.

The EBA was backed by the CFA Board on Friday following more than 1200 days of negotiations despite ongoing concerns from the state’s volunteer firefighters.

But Volunteer Fire Brigades of Victoria sought a Supreme Court injunction against the new deal which was granted yesterday, arguing it would marginalise volunteers and hand undue influence to the United Firefighters Union.

CFA chief executive officer Frances Diver said the vote on the proposed EBA would be deferred until the outcome of the Supreme Court action was determined.

CFA staff had begun their access period, in which they review the EBA in preparation for voting, on Monday.

Ms Diver said the action taken by the VFBV to bring the matter before the Supreme Court was a “disappointing development” that would delay the resolution of the bargaining dispute and “this impacts CFA’s volunteers and career firefighters”.

She said the CFA did not wish to unnecessarily prolong what had become an emotional debate.

The trial will be heard by the Supreme Court on 22 September.

When approached by The Express a number of District 27’s volunteer firefighters refused to comment publicly on the latest developments.

One volunteer firefighter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were concerned about a power of veto the EBA gives the United Firefighters Union.

However, the firefighter said he didn’t believe local career staff would prevent a volunteer from doing their job as past relationships had always been strong.

Morale has never been lower, the firefighter said, and some clauses in the EBA were of worry to volunteers.

“In my heart I believe that won’t happen but there’s always an opportunity it will. You don’t put rules in the EBA if you aren’t going to use them,” the firefighter said.

The firefighter expects some volunteers to leave following Friday’s endorsement, but not many, as they felt it was their duty to protect the community.

“The morale’s down now, but when the time comes and the bell rings we will still get on the truck,” the firefighter said.

“It’s the Aussie way.”