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Wednesday, 01 June 2016 00:00

CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement – Thursday, 2 June Update


VFBV rejects the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations and the premise that it is able to be a fair and independent umpire in this case

Fair Work Commission recommendations

The Fair Work Commission has issued recommendations on the CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement that represent the threat of union control over CFA.

Download the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations here

VFBV had applied to consult with and assist the Commission (see VFBV’s letter here) in understanding the impact and overall effect of various union clauses in the proposed agreement, particularly regarding the delivery of CFA protection to the communities it serves.

Our application to be heard on these issues on behalf of CFA volunteers was rejected by the Commission. This was despite the fact CFA volunteers comprise 97% of CFA’s workforce and large parts of the proposed Agreement directly affects them.

The recommendations are unacceptable to CFA volunteers; they are totally inadequate in ensuring that CFA remains an effective volunteer and community based fire and emergency service in the face of a union representing just over 1% of the CFA workforce trying to take control.

If implemented the amended Enterprise Agreement will mean the progressive dismantling of the CFA as a volunteer and community based fully integrated service.

CFA Board

CFA has issued a new Operational EBA Update (2 June 2016), explaining that the CFA Board met to review the recommendations and is seeking further advice.

In its update, the CFA Board pointed out that the recommendations are for consideration and not binding, and it remains seriously concerned about the implications.

The Operational EBA Update says CFA is concerned with parts of the proposed EBA that would affect the Chief Officer’s ability to allocate and deploy resources, include a union veto over CFA decisions, negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs, and be discriminatory.

The CFA Board is seeking further discussions with the State Government on the operational and financial impacts on CFA.


What you can do to support CFA and volunteers

See the Herald Sun article online – this includes an online opinion poll.

Download signs for use in your local area


 Note: Posters may be printed up to A2 size.

Concerned? Email or call your local MP or your local newspaper.

Talk to your VFBV State Councillors or your Brigade Delegates about taking action in your local area.

New to the EBA issue?

Keep reading for recent VFBV and CFA updates that look into why the volunteers, CFA senior managers, the CFA Board, CEO and Chief Officer, and the Minister for Emergency Services are all so concerned.


1 June 2016


Following the Herald Sun’s front page article today - VFBV has verified the Herald Sun’s main points and is confident that this is an accurate report of the events that took place yesterday in the Commonwealth’s industrial relations commission, called Fair Work Australia, and is cause for great concern and alarm.

As we advised on Monday, on the back of statements by the Premier and senior government Ministers who have stated that the Commission is a “fair and independent umpire”, VFBV sought leave on behalf of CFA volunteers to appear to assist the Commission understand the effects and impacts that some of the proposed industrial agreement clauses would have on CFA volunteers and their capacity to serve the community.  Despite volunteers making up 97% of CFA’s workforce, that the proposed Agreement had widespread negative effects on CFA volunteers and despite the Volunteer Charter being enacted by the Victorian Parliament as law, the Commissioner has advised us that our request to be heard on your behalf was denied.

Volunteers are now pleading with the Premier, the Cabinet and all Victorian MPs to do what the industrial umpire did not: have the decency to hear our concerns, properly consider them, and protect volunteer firefighters and the Victorian public from any negative impacts.

The CFA CEO, Chief Officer, Board, Operational Command, Volunteers and the Minister are all united against the adoption of the proposed Agreement and are all saying the same thing - the proposed agreement, even with the slight changes recommended by the industrial commissioner, will significantly impact on volunteers and their capacity to effectively serve the community as well as impact on CFA’s ability to make decisions. On any other day that would be enough.

We have requested the Premier ensure that CFA’s capacity to make timely decisions on operational and other resource allocation remains unencumbered, and to make it explicit that the UFU industrial agreement is not to override or set aside relevant Victorian legislation or to marginalize CFA volunteers or relegate them to a lesser role than paid staff.

We are fielding many calls from volunteers who are disenfranchised and some who are considering resigning. We urge you to please not make any hasty decisions. Our communities still depend on us, and we have always met that commitment with our utmost dedication. There is still time for our Victorian Cabinet Ministers to listen to us, respect the work you do and heed our message. This does not mean members should not start planning for the worst and escalating any local actions to raise concerns with MPs, local councils and other bodies. We also need you to be ready if further action is required. These are testing times and we remind members that volunteers have no quarrel with our paid firefighter’s pay and conditions, and we want those sorted quickly. Please remain respectful of each other. We are taking a principled, moral and values driven position, and these values should guide our decision making.

Today and tomorrow may set the scene for the future of CFA. Members are urged to continue emailing and writing their local Members of Parliament, especially Cabinet Ministers who may be deciding the outcome of this matter this week. You should ask how volunteer views and concerns are being considered if they have not been allowed to be properly put in the current process. You should ask if they will personally protect you and your community’s volunteer firefighters from any impacts that may retard or reduce their capacity to protect the community.

Any inclusion of anything (other than pay and conditions) that seeks to control, demoralize or disregard volunteer firefighters is just morally wrong and we need our leaders to stand up on our behalf and respect the commitment provided to us through the Volunteer Charter which states;

That the Victorian Parliament’s & CFA’s policy outcomes are to be judged against the following principles;

Is it fair?

Is it just?

Is it reasonable?

Does it discriminate against volunteers?

Is the outcome practicable and sustainable?

Is it in the best interests of the safety of the Victorian community?

We should expect no less.


Handy Downloads for Volunteers

Here is some additional information, and resources to assist volunteers in raising the issue:

VFBV’s Letter to Premier Daniel Andrews



Note: Posters may be printed up to A2 size.

27 May Update

The Fair Work Commissioner is considering final submissions on the CFA/UFU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement dispute and is expected provide potential next steps to resolve the matter soon, possibly on Monday 30 May.

CFA issued a new Operational EBA Update on Friday, 27 May 2016 - you can see that new CFA update here.

You can read CFA's 18 May Operational EBA Update - click here to download - issued 18 May 2016

Statement from CFA Board 12 May 2016:

We are writing to you today as part of our commitment to keeping you updated on the progress of the Operational EBA discussions.

We are deeply saddened by reports of deteriorating relationships between volunteers and staff in some areas.

Many volunteers have told us they do not want to get involved in genuine negotiations about pay and conditions of staff, and nor should they.

They do, however, have a right to raise concerns over potential decisions that directly impact them, and CFA is required to consult on these issues.

We once again ask all members to be tolerant of each other's views and for everybody to treat each other with appropriate respect.

At a recent Board meeting, we discussed our desire to see a resolution to the EBA discussions as soon as possible, but reconfirmed we will not negotiate on the inclusion of certain clauses being sought by the UFU.

These clauses would:
• remove or diminish the ability of the Chief Officer to allocate and deploy resources flexibly and with agility
• require agreement or provide veto to UFU over CFA management decisions
• restrict or negatively impact on volunteers and BASOs.

We do want to emphasise that we remain committed to consulting extensively with our membership on any significant changes that impact them, their safety or their terms and conditions. The position we have taken does not diminish this in any way.

The UFU presented these clauses in a draft EBA to the Victorian Government.

We believe it would be beneficial if all members covered by the proposed agreement had access to the current proposal (version 17.1) so that you are appropriately informed about the discussions, issues and impacts.

As this is a UFU document, and not CFA’s proposal, we have written to the UFU to seek their agreement to make it available to their members.

Tomorrow, we will be attending a Fair Work Commission hearing, which was requested by the UFU. We will be presenting what we can and can’t agree on.

We will continue to update you on developments.

From CFA Board

(John Peberdy, Ross Coyle, Michael Freshwater, Katherine Forrest, James Holyman, John Schurink, Michael Tudball, Samantha Hunter)

Posted on the CFA website, 4pm 12 May 2016



Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett has told Nine News, “I do have grave concerns about some of what has been in various logs of claims from the UFU.”

“We want this resolved as quickly as possible but it will be on terms that look after all of our firefighters.” (Nine News, 11 May 2016)

And CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone has issued a statement saying “there has been much debate devoted to negotiations around a new enterprise bargaining agreement” and that “there has also been misinformation that needs to be corrected.”

He says the current EBA log of claims includes clauses “that will adversely impact on volunteers and CFA’s ability to run the organisation in a way that will best serve all Victorians.”

You can read his full statement in the Weekly Times here.



CFA volunteers held a motorcade of fire vehicles through the streets of Melbourne on Saturday 23rd April, 2016, to demonstrate their support for the CFA and Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.  Fire vehicles came from all corners of the state to converge on the city.  See TV coverage here:  SBS TV News, WIN TV News Gippsland, ABC TV News

The Minister and CFA have been sidelined by the Premier, Daniel Andrews, who is reported to have done a secret personal deal with Firefighters’ union secretary, Peter Marshall which would see the Union gain significant control over CFA operations as well as achieve massive pay and allowance increases.

“The CFA and the Minister were negotiating with the union in good faith for a reasonable financial settlement for paid firefighters but would not agree to surrender proper management and operational functions or to marginalise volunteers as the Union demanded”, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria CEO Andrew Ford said.

“It has become clear to volunteers that in recent days the Premier went behind the Minister’s back and reached a deal with Peter Marshall which gives the union virtually all it wants,” he said. 

“And that includes marginalising experienced and qualified volunteer firefighters who are committed to volunteer community service and flooding the organisation with unneeded extra paid staff to replace thousands of urban volunteers without increasing public safety.

“The cost implications of the Premier’s sell-out are huge, with the fire service levy on households and business expected to significantly grow year on year for years into the future as more and more volunteers are replaced by paid employees under the union’s system.

“The name “The Marshall Plan” will have a totally new meaning.

“Where’s the money coming from? Out of our pockets of course!

“It’s ironic that after capping municipal rates and charges the government’s fire service levy, which municipal councils’ are required to send out on their rates notices, will grow like topsy.

“The public safety implications are particularly troubling.  If you undermine, deactivate and progressively push out volunteers, who will provide Victoria with a surge capacity to respond to major fires and emergencies?

“And if you are substantially reliant on paid staff be prepared to pay overtime, penalty rates, extra shift allowances, meal allowances, accommodation costs and allowances as well as the wages that will be required to have sufficient paid staff available.

“And remember they are going up by 19% under the Andrews-Marshall industrial deal.

“Daniel Andrews either hasn’t thought this through or just doesn’t care.

“Jane Garrett has demonstrated that she has thought this through, understands the issues and details and repeatedly demonstrated she does care.

“The CFA Board and its leadership, including CEO Lucinda Nolan and Chief Fire Officer Joe Buffone know what’s at stake in respect of cost and operational capacity to keep Victorian’s safe.

“That’s why volunteers are mobilising to support Minister Jane Garrett and the CFA and its leadership.”

For all inquiries ring the VFBV office on 9802 0501.

Read 21561 times Last modified on Thursday, 23 June 2016 14:09
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.


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