Volunteers must retain fire control
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Volunteers must retain fire control

The need to preserve the rights of the CFA and its volunteers was addressed in State Parliament this week by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.

Mr Bull said after seeing a draft of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) currently being negotiated by the Government and the United Firefighters' Union, the concerns that have been raised by a large number of CFA volunteers are well justified.

"In the past fortnight I have been contacted by many brigade representatives from Glenaladale, Mallacoota, Bemm River, Lakes Entrance, Maffra, Paynesville, Heyfield, Sarsfield, Woodglen, Bairnsdale and Hillside and more often than not it has been brigade captains and senior members," Mr Bull told Parliament.

"Their commentary has been similar. They want no transfer of any powers from the CFA to the UFU, want no diminishing of responsibilities and no changes that will impact their ability to protect their communities,” he said.

"If any of these areas are compromised by the current EBA negotiations with the UFU, large numbers of volunteers, many long-serving, have threatened to walk away from the organisation if this power of veto stays in the EBA.

"This would be a tragedy for country communities as our local brigades do so much more than defend our assets from fires. They are involved in servicing our country communities in many other areas.

"They are members of a proud organisation that has served our communities well for generations and do not want to be dictated to in any way, shape or form by a metropolitan-based union.

"To date the Premier's only comments have been that 'no decisions have been made and negotiations are continuing on a fair deal' and no more.

"The Minister has stated she was not happy with the UFU's log of claims, but unfortunately the Premier appears to have taken over negotiations after UFU members openly campaigned in marginal seats at the State election.

"What our volunteers want added to that comment is for the Premier to say that while negotiations are continuing, he will guarantee there will be no transfer of any responsibilities from the CFA to the UFU, or that he will not in any way diminish the decision-making powers of the CFA - it should be quite easy.

"Paid firefighters deserve a fair pay deal, no one has any problems with that at all – however no deal should be the detriment to the independence of the CFA and its volunteers," Mr Bull said.

For those wishing to sign a petition supporting the CFA volunteers, it can be done at Mr Bull's electorate office at 143 Main Street, Bairnsdale.