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Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (2009)

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As most volunteers will be aware, the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission finished hearing evidence on the 27th May 2010. The Commission was established on the 16th February 2009, nine days following Black Saturday and commenced hearing formal evidence on the 11th May 2009. Since that time the Commissioners have heard evidence from over 400 witnesses and received nearly 1,700 submissions from individuals and organisations. 1,000 exhibits were tendered and the hearings resulted in over 20,000 pages of written transcript.

The Royal Commission will deliver its final report to the Governor of Victoria by the 31st July 2010.

From the outset, VFBV recognised that the conduct of the Commission and its subsequent findings would have far reaching implications for the CFA and the nature and constitution of community embedded volunteer fire brigades. While to some degree these threats remain real, there is little doubt that without the extensive and comprehensive involvement of volunteers and VFBV in the conduct of the Commission, they may well have had far greater impact.

On behalf of all CFA volunteers, VFBV played a key role in ensuring that the interests of volunteers were maintained at the forefront of the Commission's deliberations. The role of volunteers as the largest and most effective participants in the protection of Victorian's people and assets from the ravages of bushfires continued to be highlighted and regularly acknowledged by various Counsel Assisting the Commission and by the Commissioners.

Those volunteers called before the Commission to give evidence have without exception distinguished themselves as reliable, forthright and competent not only on the fireground and in IMT's but also in the manner in which they gave their evidence, responded to questioning and portrayed themselves and CFA under what can only be described as difficult and intimidating circumstances.

From the beginning, VFBV's Board determined to play a major role in the proceedings of the Commission. A Steering Committee of experienced volunteers was selected and a Project person engaged to conduct the day to day monitoring of events occurring in the Commission, research various issues and draft submissions on behalf of the Board. VFBV also engaged legal representatives to formally represent the organisation at hearings of the Commission, prosecute our submissions and conduct appropriate examination of witnesses.

As the Commission proceeded, VFBV consulted with a wide range of senior volunteers and volunteer forums to ensure that the matters of interest to volunteers and particularly those likely to have a future impact on the CFA, volunteers and volunteerism were canvassed and the team adequately informed so as to confidently act and put forward a comprehensive and representative view to the Commission.

This consultation took a variety of forms including discussions and meetings with VFBV's Board, VFBV's Royal Commission Steering Committee, State Council and individual State Councillor's, regional meetings, workshops on particular issues, teleconferences with focus groups and dialogue with a significant number of individual volunteers spread widely across the State. As with many similar projects and as a consequence of the size of our organisation, it was not possible to consult with everyone. In many instances, the time frames within which we were required to operate limited more extensive consultation. Nevertheless, every effort was made to establish representative positions prior to submissions being filed with the Commission.

A significant effort was also devoted to discussion and consultation with government, politicians, CFA and other key stakeholders to ensure that our submissions were clearly articulated, based on common ground where possible and our objectives understood.

Of concern to VFBV was the Government's early decision that all government Parties would be represented by the one Counsel. This meant that the views of CFA could not be put to the Commission directly but relied on a number of processes of negotiation, filtering and consensus within the government bureaucracy prior to submissions being made or examination of evidence and witnesses conducted. The implications of this approach are yet to be fully realised and will only be judged in the fullness of time.

VFBV made 14 formal submissions to the Royal Commission. With the exception of the major parties i.e. Government, VFBV filed the largest number of submissions on behalf of an individual organisation.

These submissions were either designed to deal with particular issues or to respond to the submissions of other parties, in particular those made by Counsel Assisting the Commission.

In many cases, the submissions now establish a consolidated direction for VFBV and CFA volunteers that are not necessarily dependent on the outcomes and recommendations of the Royal Commission. As the organisation moves forward, they will form the basis for continuing dialogue and consultation amongst volunteers and with government and the CFA to ensure that the future organisational shape and doctrine of CFA, regardless of its management and governance structure, reflects the opinions and professional view of volunteers and their communities.

The following represents a brief précis of the thrust of each of the submissions. A full copy of these submissions follows.


1. Application to be Heard

In order to actively participate in the conduct of the Royal Commission including the right to make written and oral submissions and to have witnesses present evidence to the Commission, VFBV needed to make formal application to be heard.

Our original application sought leave to appear in connection with all of the Terms of reference. Subsequently our approval to appear was limited to three of the key matters being investigated by the Commission.

Despite the fact that we were in theory excluded from receiving evidence and submissions, filing submissions and making appearances in relation to the remaining issues, we were not disadvantaged as the Commission adopted a flexible approach, we assume in recognition of the wide ranging experience possessed by volunteers and associated extensive tacit knowledge.


2. VFBV Interim Submission (July 2009)

This submission dealt with a broad range of issues raised in early hearings of the Commission and prior to the release of the Commission's Interim Report in August of 2009.

Matters dealt within our submission included Information Management and Community Warnings; evacuation and fire refuges and the need for one multi-agency bushfire information website for the distribution of advice to the community.

We also sought improvements to arrangements for intelligence acquisition, analysis and management. We submitted that early prediction of the spread of a fire was essential to community warnings and advice and to achieve this, improved arrangements for sector and division command on the fireground was essential. This included the capacity to initiate the early deployment of appropriate vehicles and competent personnel and the requirement for CFA to review the provision of suitable vehicles and associated resources.

In this submission, we gave an early indication that it was our view that CFA's Chief Officer should have greater responsibility for all bushfires in the state that either posed or had the potential to pose a threat to any area for which CFA had a responsibility.

We also highlighted our concern that it was becoming increasingly evident that volunteers were playing a less prominent role in major fire management and that the role of volunteers in incident management teams needed to be supported and nurtured in the future. We expressed our concern that the early reliance on interstate and overseas augmentation of IMT personnel in deference to the availability of competent volunteers was in our view unacceptable and not in the best interests of building state and organisation capacity and capability.

We further submitted that government needed to commit to future investment to support volunteer recruitment, training, equipment and for community engagement. We also emphasised that additional investment was required in operational systems and technology.

Most importantly we submitted that the capacity and availability of volunteers was dependent on an open, inclusive and supportive organisational culture focussed on volunteers and their communities.


3. Proposal for a single control agency and line of control for bushfire management in Victoria (October 2009)

This submission was specifically aimed at putting forward the proposition that all bushfires in Victoria should be under the control of CFA's Chief Officer.

The submission substantially expanded the preliminary view put forward in our July 2009 submission that CFA's Chief Officer should be assigned the responsibility to manage any bushfire in Victoria regardless of whether the fire is burning on public or private land.

We drew the Commission's attention to the fact that all of the other States in Australia that were at risk from high intensity, high community impact bushfires had legislation that placed the responsibility to manage a bushfire on a single fire service in the jurisdiction.

At the same time we emphasised that we did not support or recommend any amalgamation of the three agencies (CFA, DSE and MFB) as an alternative.


4. Training of Incident Controllers, Resourcing of IMT's and ICC's and Preparedness (March 2010)

This submission was filed in response to submissions by Counsel Assisting the Commission on these specific matters.

In the submission we emphasised the added value of the extensive “life skills” possessed by many volunteers in the performance of the role of Incident Controller and supported the recommendations of Counsel Assisting that the “best person” for the job should be appointed as the IC. We stated that this requisite should be applied regardless of an individual's agency or whether they were a volunteer or a paid employee.

We agreed with the need for uniform standards for training, accreditation and endorsement of incident management personnel but submitted that the time frame for implementation proposed by Counsel Assisting was impractical as it was our view that CFA were not prepared to the extent necessary to achieve the deadlines set.

We expressed our concern at the distribution of the “elite” list of Level 3 Incident Controllers and questioned the criteria used by the Chief Officers (CFA & DSE) to develop this list. (We also wrote to the CFA regarding this matter).

As with a number of other training courses, our submission also identified that there were significant issues associated with the delivery of training for incident management roles and access to training courses. We highlighted the absence in CFA of any formal role and training pathways associated with the acquisition of skills and knowledge between firefighter and higher level incident management roles and emphasised that CFA needed to ensure that future training courses should be constructed and delivered at times that were convenient to volunteers.

In particular we emphasised that CFA needed to recognise the value of volunteers and to make a real effort to encourage volunteers to attain higher level incident management competencies and to nurture those that had already made a significant sacrifice in achieving these skills and competencies.

Finally, we again emphasised the need for one agency (CFA) to have control over all bushfire management in Victoria so as to establish a clear and unambiguous regime of control and command.


5. Payments to Volunteers (December 2009)

We received a specific request from the Commission seeking our view on the question of payments to volunteers. This matter arose during evidence in the Commission by senior representatives from other Australian fire services.

Our submission on this issue re-iterated VFBV's previous position that “when income is attached, the service is no longer given freely and is no longer volunteering”. We emphasised VFBV's previously strongly held position that the introduction of a payment or even partial payment for service has the potential to destroy volunteerism.

In making our point, we did however indicate that volunteers should not be out of pocket for the contribution they make to CFA and their communities and that there may exist other avenues of recognition not necessary tied to monetary reward that are worthy of further consideration.

We also submitted that there should be incentives for employers who allow their employees to participate in CFA activities including response to fires and other emergency incidents.

We submitted VFBV's agreed Policy on Volunteers and Payments (2003) as an attachment to our submission.


6. The Fire Service Levy (December 2009)

In December 2009, the Commission issued a discussion paper on the Fire Service Levy that raised a number of specific questions in relation to the future funding of the fire services and the application of the levy on insurance premiums as the primary component of the funding regime.

VFBV used the opportunity to highlight our concerns at the inequity of the present arrangements between the insured and the un-insured or under insured.

We emphasised that regardless of future arrangements for funding, any alternative should meet the following criteria:

Be equitable and transparent
Capable of providing sufficient funds to meet the requirements of modern fire services, and;
Be efficient in both its administration and collection processes.


7. Land and Fuel Management and Planned Burning (April 2010)

Despite the fact that VFBV had not been granted leave to appear in relation to these particular matters, we sought and were granted the opportunity to submit our views on what we considered was an issue of significance to volunteers.

In general we supported the recommendations made by Counsel Assisting and the expert panel that there was an urgent need for increased fuel reduction on public land. We reiterated our previous position that in many instances, with appropriate discussion and negotiation, volunteers were prepared to assist with the implementation of fuel reduction burning on public land as a training opportunity, particularly were the activity was designed to reduce the risk to adjoining private property.

However, we expressed our concern that the deliberations of the Commission and in particular the contribution of the “expert panel” focussed almost solely on fuel management/reduction on public land.

VFBV submitted that any proposal that did not take into account issues associated with the need for fuel management on private land would be seriously flawed and fail to address the principal source of fire spread (and resulting property damage and loss of life) from uncontrolled fire in the urban rural interface.

We emphasised that the Integrated Fire Management Project (IFMP) whilst in need of rejuvenation, nevertheless presented an opportunity for a holistic view of “landscape” based fuel management and fire prevention.

We further submitted that as CFA were independent of any land owner, (public or private); CFA should be made responsible for fire prevention planning across the landscape. In this context, we went to some length to emphasise that any future arrangement involving the requirement to treat bushfire risk holistically must not absolve a particular agency or individual from the responsibility to deal with the risks that their land poses to the wider community.


8. Firefighter Safety - Primary Submission (March 2010)

VFBV made two (2) submissions in relation to firefighter safety.

In our initial submission we built on Statements filed on behalf of volunteers by Alan Monti and Allan Small and their oral evidence to the Commission. We emphasised our position that fire fighter safety was the major issue for CFA and that safety was inextricably linked to training.

We submitted that CFA's “Near Miss Reporting” processes whilst capturing a number of relevant factors in relation to incidents, often failed to consider the human factors associated with the occurrence. We also submitted that CFA needed to improve its processes associated with the collection of evidence and conduct of inquiries if volunteers and organisational safety were to benefit from the findings of these reports.

We emphasised that to be of value as a learning tool, the CFA needed to publish relevant sections of near miss reports rather than just file them away as was the present case.

We noted that whilst CFA had been required to make available its near miss reports to the Commission, DSE reports did not appear to be subject to the same degree of transparency and therefore industry wide learning and state capability improvement was not as comprehensive as it could be.

We submitted that CFA and other state agencies needed to apply an increased focus aimed at “lessons learned” i.e. a learning recognition process based on the experience of others. We raised the desirability of a national Lessons Learned Centre along similar lines to that established in the United States which would act as a central repository and distribution centre for a wide range of fire fighter safety and operational improvement initiatives.

We drew attention to the need to adopt enhanced training in relation to “situational awareness” ; increased participation in prescribed burning where appropriate and the implementation by CFA of a structured “skills maintenance” program. We again raised the matter of the availability of Instructors to deliver training and the use of sessional instructors.

In this submission we also emphasised the need for improvements to Sector and Division command deployments and the provision of adequate vehicles to enable rapid dispatch of these elements of command.

We pursued the matter of an effective HR management system to address what we described as poor workforce planning arrangements and a corresponding lack of efficient utilisation of the total volunteer workforce, particularly in IMT roles. (It should be noted that this matter has been the subject of discussion with CFA since 2007 with little positive progress to date).

We made additional comment in relation to the efficacy of back-burning as a suppression strategy; the use of Red Flag Warnings; communications; personal protective clothing and equipment design.

We also informed the Commission of the existence and success of VFBV's Welfare programs and the efforts undertaken to support volunteers following the tragic events of the 2008/09 fire season whilst highlighting what we consider to be an on-going obligation for CFA to continue to support volunteers affected by this event well into the future.


9. Firefighter Safety - Response to Submission by Counsel Assisting (May 2010)

VFBV's second submission in relation to Firefighter Safety was filed in response to submission made by Counsel Assisting following oral evidence and submissions by other participants in the Commissions proceedings.

In this submission we indicated that we did not support recommendations by Counsel Assisting that Safety Officers have a power of veto over what they may perceive as unsafe operational decisions. Our strong view in this regard is that the Safety Officer should provide advice of this nature to the IC and that it remains his/her prerogative as to any subsequent action which may included the cessation of or modifications to particular strategies or tactics.

We supported further training in back burning and the requirement to obtain the approval of the IC prior to undertaking this tactic.

We confirmed our opinion that there was a need to overhaul the processes and procedures for conducting investigations and reviews of OH&S incidents (including near misses) and importantly, arrangements for the on-going support for the health and well being of all firefighters.

We acknowledged and supported the recommendations of Counsel Assisting in relation to the provision of suitable GPS and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems in all fire fighting vehicles; a matter raised and recommended in our initial submission.

We again emphasised that the introduction of a HR management systems as raised by VFBV on a number of occasions prior to the 2008/09 fire season would assist fatigue management and ensure that available competent volunteers were used to fulfil positions based on the “best person for the job”.


10. Communications (May 2010)

The Commission received extensive submissions and heard lengthy evidence in relation to a range of communications issues. At the conclusion of this evidence, Counsel Assisting filed a series of observations and recommendations to which VFBV responded.

In our response to these submissions, VFBV emphasised that volunteers considered the provision of capable and reliable telecommunications systems as being fundamental to safe and effective operations.

We supported the recommendations of Counsel Assisting concerning the need to undertake a further review of radio black spots; we sought an increase in the number of command vehicles equipped with appropriate communications technology to enable the rapid deployment of Sector and Division command capability matched to fire suppression resource escalation and improvements in the performance of the EAS paging system. In regard to the latter, we expressed our concern at the delays in the transmission of urgent operational information including critical safety messages that occurred during the 2008/09 fire season and which had the potential to place fire fighters lives at risk unnecessarily.

We reiterated our long held view that all CFA operational vehicles should be equipped with appropriate resource tracking systems including GPS and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology.

We further submitted that as with any new initiatives and innovations being contemplated or investigated, the importance of volunteers as the majority end-user of communications systems and products being engaged and included in the development, determination and on-going review of any statewide public safety communications strategy. We stated that this would ensure that the extensive knowledge and experience of volunteers is captured in the performance criteria of our communications infrastructure rather than systems design being solely undertaken by deference to technical experts.


11. A New Bushfire Safety Policy - Replacing the Stay or Go Policy (May 2010)

It would not be over stating the position to indicate that of all the policy matters to come before the Royal Commission, the CFA's and national fire service's policy on evacuation and the commonly referred to “Stay or Go' policy evoked a high level of emotive reaction and criticism from a wide range of stakeholders, observers and the media.

The Commission heard numerous witnesses including emergency services personnel; national and international experts and a host of lay persons with many disparate and often conflicting views concerning the efficacy of the arrangements for advice to and management of the public prior to and during bushfire emergencies including the subject of mandatory evacuation.

During the principle stages of this debate VFBV elected to remain silent on the broader aspects of the matter, deferring to the expertise of the CFA and others to manage the argument.

Following the circulation of submissions from Counsel Assisting on the subject, VFBV determined to make a limited submission in reply, specifically in relation to recommendations concerning the imposition of a requirement on Incident Controllers to recommend an evacuation and safe route to take where a community is being or likely to be threatened by fire.

We submitted that a mandated requirement of this nature was impractical, primarily on the basis that the IC is not always in possession of the most up to date intelligence regarding the current position and projected spread of a fire and its' direct impact or effects on escape routes.

We also submitted that if such a proposal were to be accepted, in order to minimise or avoid future adverse criticism or action, there was a potential for IC's to take the step of recommending pre-emptive evacuations adding to the overall confusion associated with an incident and the likelihood of increased post incident criticism. We stated that the impact of such action (ordered evacuation) would require significant resources (not readily available in many small communities) and detract police (as the responsible agency to conduct an evacuation) from other key statutory emergency management and coordination roles.

We did submit that in the event that the Commission determined to accept the recommendation of Counsel Assisting, IC's should be provided with broad scale indemnity and legal protection should the decision to evacuate and recommended route subsequently place the public at greater risk or result in what would have otherwise been avoidable losses.


12. Amalgamation of the Fire Services - Organisational Structure(April 2010)

VFBV made two submissions in relation to this critical and controversial matter. The first of these was in response to a request from the Royal Commission for a formal statement setting out our views on the potential to amalgamate the three fire service (CFA, DSE and MFB).

As can be imagined, this particular issue probably resulted in the greatest concern by VFBV and involved significant consultation with a wide range of volunteers and other stakeholders. VFBV saw this issue as warranting a significant response on behalf of volunteers, principally in view of the fact that it has the potential to translate into significant change that would not necessary be in the longer term interests of volunteers and their communities.

VFBV dealt with this issue in a number of ways:

Conducted a workshop of experienced volunteers to consider options for change and strategies to manage imposed change;
Filed a detailed submission with the Commission;
Arranged for several volunteer witnesses and CEO Andrew Ford to appear as witnesses before the Commission to outline our concerns;
Cross examined other witnesses in connection with alternative proposals and to reinforce our position;
Filed additional submissions in relation to matters raised during the examination/ cross examination of other parties;
Held discussions with other stakeholders to ensure an overall appreciation of our position.
In our primary submission we made it clear that we did not support the prospect of amalgamating the three agencies due to the risk to the future stability and capacity of Victoria's fire fighting capacity. Whilst the Commission had identified a number of deficiencies in the current arrangements, it was our view that amalgamation was not the panacea to overcoming these deficiencies. We stated that the necessary changes could just as well be achieved within the current framework provided priority allocation of resources occurred.

We emphasised that one of the principal risks of amalgamation was a loss of local ownership of fire problems; loss of the embedded nature of the fire brigade in the community and a significant diminution of the surge capacity of volunteers as an adjunct to effective major fire fighting in the State.

We advocated an increased level of support from CFA for volunteers; highlighted the strengths of the integrated volunteer/career staffing model and the adverse impacts that an inappropriate and inflexible workforce and industrial relations environment has on volunteers and the future of volunteerism.

Regardless of any changes to the current structure of the services, we specified a number of key elements that a future model needed to incorporate including one Minister; single line of control (consistent with a number of our other submissions); priority of life; one organisation responsible for fire prevention planning regardless of land tenure; recognition of the volunteer culture; policy and program focus on maximising volunteer involvement in the organisation and land managers retaining the responsibility for mitigating risks associated with their land.


13. Amalgamation of the Fire Services - Organisational Structure. Response to the recommendations of Counsel Assisting (May 2010)

Following the release of Counsel Assisting's recommendations, we filed a further submission on this subject.

We submitted that whilst we did not oppose change, we opposed change being made for the sake of it where the need had not been clearly supported by evidence before the Commission.

In response to recommendations that there be an over-arching body (referred to by Counsel Assisting as the Victorian Fire Services Board) to administer the three fire services, we submitted that any future model would need to be established on the basis that:

The future focus is on increasing interoperability between the agencies in a practical and sustainable manner, rather than directing resources towards an unworkable merger or integration of the agencies;
There is no detrimental impact on volunteer firefighters; their relationship with the CFA; and consequently their numbers;
The positive attributes of the current system are maintained and continually developed, including encouraging volunteerism through offering appropriate training, removing disincentives to volunteerism and fully utilising volunteers;
The character of the CFA as a volunteer based organisation supplemented by paid staff as and when needed is retained.
In making this submission, it was necessary to defend volunteerism in the CFA in the face of extensive criticism and flawed submissions by other parties and in particular RMIT University in concert with the United Firefighters Union. The UFU commissioned, RMIT submission presented the case for a paid only fire services across the greater metropolitan area, regional cities and larger rural townships (as dictated by growth) with the replacement of volunteers in these areas with what was termed “professional" (means paid) firefighters over a 5 year phase in period .

VFBV strongly argued the folly of such a proposal and in particular the impact that the loss of thousands of volunteers from these areas would have on CFA's surge capacity and extended fire operations throughout the State. We were supported in this position by the State (on behalf of CFA and other government agencies) and evidence submitted by the Department of Justice.

We also argued that in relation to those areas experiencing increasing activity and operational complexity, the appointment of paid firefighters should be an option of last resort. We elaborated that the paid firefighter option should be one of the final elements of an extended range of other support mechanisms and alternatives. These alternatives, more commonly described as the “volunteer continuum” should be designed to support and sustain volunteerism and ease the administrative workload on volunteers without implementing a solution that eventually disenfranchises volunteers and acts as a disincentive to volunteerism and its' overall community benefits.

We strongly supported Counsel Assisting's assertions that “The major risk to this State's firefighting capacity upon organisational restructure is the risk of the loss of volunteers to the CFA”.

VFBV's submission on the subject of Organisational Structure also responded to matters including recommendations for the introduction of a new “Victorian Fire Services Board” replacing the current CFA and MFB Boards and in some way not yet fully articulated, having overarching responsibility for the fire management operations of the DSE; the flawed and inexpert nature of the present Board of Reference (established under the staff EBA) used to determine CFA staffing in deference to the powers and responsibilities of the Chief Officer and matters associated with Standards of Fire Cover. In this context we drew attention to the State's submission and supporting statistical evidence that “CFA's performance in outer suburbs is comparable to that of the MFB's in the outer reaches of the MFD (Metropolitan Fire District)”.

We also re-iterated our position that a command and control structure for bushfires in Victoria where there is a single State Controller be implemented and that the State Controller should be the Chief Officer of CFA.


14. Impediments to Volunteer Brigades Obtaining Access to Sessional Instructors (May 2010)

Following matters that arose from VFBV's evidence to the Commission and submissions by the UFU, the Commission sought an additional submission from VFBV in relation to matters affecting the availability and use of Sessional Instructors (SI's) within CFA that VFBV saw as appropriate to expedite the delivery of training to volunteers.

In particular the UFU sought to convey the view that there were no impediments to the use of volunteers as sessional instructors and that in fact CFA had never sought to use Sessional Instructors.

In a supplementary submission, VFBV advised the Commission that there were in fact a number of impediments to the effective and efficient engagement and utilisation of Sessional Instructors through what VFBV believed were convoluted and often impractical conditions attached to the engagement of SI's by virtue of a Deed of Agreement between the CFA and the UFU.

As expected, UFU spin on the arrangements for the engagement and use of sessional instructors presented a different view.

It is unfortunate that the CFA's approach to this matter was not entirely supportive of VFBV's attempts to remedy this situation which was designed to assist CFA in overcoming what VFBV still considers to be substantial issues and inefficiencies associated with the availability of competent trainers and training to volunteers, where and when required. Given the exchange that occurred, VFBV may now determine to consider further approaches to the CFA in connection with the appointment of volunteers as paid SI's.


The above summaries describes in a very much abbreviated form the extensive consultation and deliberations that have occurred since the Royal Commission commenced taking evidence.

VFBV commends the detailed submissions (located on this page) filed with the Royal Commission to all volunteers. They outline the future direction that VFBV on behalf of all volunteers advocates the CFA should take on a wide range of matters and will set the agenda for further extensive and detailed consultation leading up to and following the release of the Royal Commission's final report on the 31st July 2010.

Friday, 01 March 2013 11:21

Volunteer Reaction to EBA 2010

Written by

Volunteers Reaction

In recent months, we have been flooded with volunteers’ emails and letters. Below is a small sample. Typical subjects include CFA’s recent union deal, budget cuts and the funding of 342 additional paid firefighters while volunteers face rationing of training and equipment.

If you would like to add your comment, please use the Submit Comment/Feedback button above. Names are always removed to protect your privacy.

The response to the Age re: the Welfare Fund (see Letter to the Editor – VFBV Welfare Fund on VFBV’s Media Releases page) was very well done. Concise, accurate and delivered a positive tone regarding this issue. The author should be congratulated unlike the Age employees responsible for the original article which was an appalling example of journalism. As a long time Age reader I am dismayed at the editorial standards that allow such a poor standard of reporting space on the pages of a once respected broadsheet.
Volunteer, District 23

One question I would like a answer to is we have four members from vfbv on the board,I beleive that the Eba was signed off by all board members.Why did OUR reps from VFBV sign the EBA with out speaking to the vols first. Also I have read on connect that their are still ten points the VFVB would like to know about why cant OUR board members get us a copy of these.I will be at the special meeting the VFBV has called and I will ask this question.
Volunteer, District 13

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "i'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up". There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed. I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty. So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Having read all the current comments, I can only agree, IT IS TIME TO TAKE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!! Until recently I thought I was one of a few who has seen the writing on the wall. Now it seems we are all in agreement. Let's stop 'pussy footing' around and agree at the rally to; Refuse to fill or phone in FIRS reports, DO NOT book 'In Station' after a job (a tactic used by MFB UFU members in the 1990's). Inundate District HQ's with trivial requests as well as O.H.& S. requests, and any other administrative trivial matters. We can still protect our communities and communicate with each other via radio / mobile phone etc. That's why we have Groups. Let's use the UFU's tactics, it works for them. Without we VOLUNTEERS CFA is NOTHING. 
Volunteer, District 14

My question and more so suggestion does not relate to the usual Vol/career staff discussion but is more to do with the way volunteer elections are held. How many brigades members out there disagree with the fact that non operational members have the ability to vote on operational roles. A large proportion of our brigade are part of the running team and play no part in the day to day operation of the brigade, and not one of them attends fire training or calls. So why is it then that they can vote on Lt's that control the members at fires??? With the exception of one of our brigades officers none of the others are respected, nor are they wanted in those positions, but as the non operational members have the power of the vote, they get in. This is certainly not something that is just an issue in my brigade, from speaking to other vols it’s an issue state wide.. once this is sorted we may have people in control of brigades that have the willingness to get in peoples faces and say enough is enough.. and get the treatment we deserve, instead of the "Yes Men" that so many brigades seem to be controlled by... I am certainly one of many that has had enough and is very close to resigning from the CFA after nearly 20 years... 
Volunteer, District 2

I'm amazed at the length of things that happen under the table in CFA looking after the career staff who make up a pittance of the CFA organisation. Our brigade has voted to not put up with this and fight. I encouige all brigades, districts or regons to become aware and active in rasing awairness of the conditions that the EBA will impose on Volinteers. 
Volunteer, District 14

If I may offer a suggestion :
Draft up a sample letter provide that sample letter to every brigade Captain and if possible every CFA firefighter, with a list of the names and addresses of every State politician upper and Lower House and request the brigade members to write/copy and send the letter to their two local politicians (upper and lower house) the letter should demand that they each make representation on our behalf to change the obnoxious clauses (Or Make CFA keep their word to the volunteer organisation). The threat being that if they do not do so within a week or so then we will be asking our brigade members to vote at the State Election on 27 Nov against the encumbent upper and lower house members.

Given the election is only a few weeks away you should move quickly but it can be done.

Immediately after tghe election a similar campaign at the federal level should be commencesd as well as targetting newly elected State MPs . One letter from the president will not win the day 1,000 letters from CFA voters all over the state will!
Volunteer, District 15

As a Volunteer, I'm really interested to see everyone banging on about the Volunteer Charter and how it should become law. Well before we go down this road perhaps we should get our own yard in order one of the principles of the charter for Volunteers to do is to treat CFA employees with a mutual, respectful and active partnership. Well given some of the comments I have seen written by fellow Volunteer members one inparticular referring to career firefighters as cancers is not going to help us.

Is our fight with individual or all the career firefighters or is it with CFA. I think the VFBV Executive needs to lift their game and ensure that we do not get in to a them and us battle with the career firefighters otherwise guess who is going to suffer. The community, thats who.

We need to all remember why we joined the CFA, it was for the community.

I am a very disallusioned volunteer especially when I see personal attacks agains fellow firefighters.
Volunteer, District 22

It appears easy for the party in opposition to make wide-ranging promises which are easily cast aside once that party gains power. Unfortunately as volunteers and voters we have become immune to promises made due to a road that has become littered with many shattered promises made in the heat of the moment driven by the possibility of gaining votes and therefore, power.

With a volunteer base numbering approx 58,000 potential voters, then add partners, family, friends of all volunteers, we could become a very powerful political force which would command respect from those in government.

So the question begs asking - why don't we! Most volunteers join purely to be able to help out their immediate and all communities in times of emergency. Becomming a CFA volunteer is not a politically driven decision - this is the furthest thing on our minds.

It is therefore disheartening to see so many disillusioned volunteers who believe that their basic volunteer needs are now being discarded along that road with the shattered promises without so much as the opportunity to make comment or have meaningful input.

So, why should we believe the opposition when they promise support for the volunteers by way of law and finance - is this all another charade to use volunteers as pawns in their power play?

As for our Association - where are you? Everyone easily recognises the UFU leader - would we so easily recognise our Association leader?

Yes, we will still continue to attend to emergencies, fundraise within our own communities for much needed equipment and 'make do' in relation to communications/training/protective clothing.

WHY - BECAUSE WE ARE VOLUNTEERS AND PROUD TO BE - HELP US CONTINUE TO BE SO PROUD!!!
Volunteer, District 8

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "I'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up".
There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed.
I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty.
So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Why have the Volunteers not had a rally.? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA.
Volunteer, District 14

I get the feeling this is really starting to get to a lot of people … time to start taking our own action I reckon!!

When the regions feel pressure from us it will push to HQ. Try some UFU tactics I reckon, no fire reports, no protected premises sheets, call the RDO to pick up dirty hose … anything that does not actually affect service to the community should be considered in my opinion.
Volunteer, District 7

I would like to thank the VFBV for working so hard against these incompetents who are paid CFA personnel and executive. We appreciate you correcting the words they print and we know they are wrong!!! WE are very grateful for standing up for the volunteers and we all know without them Victoria would BURN!!
Volunteer, Region 24

The EBA is the biggest joke around, you guys really need to read some of the clauses in it, if this was private industry we would be out of business.
Volunteer, District 8

What can I as a volunteer do about it? Who do I need to hassle?
Volunteer, District 14

Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free.

There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard.
Volunteer, District 23

We need to have our say VFBV arrange a rally asap. The CFA has stations falling down around the vols but we can pay STAFF 1 Hours pay to pick up a phone for overtime it’s ****ed. HELP US VFBV
Volunteer, District 8

Why is it that OH&S only applies to staff members , the Pumper Tanker that was due to arrive at my station was left to rust away at the DMO's according to my OO , so to overcome this problem by stelth it was delivered to the station next door...no discussion with my brigades BMT , of course the rumour file was well ahead of the vehicle and now all sorts of backside covering is taking place to try and assure disgruntled members.....UFU members state that the VDC had not signed off on the locker configeration...so it's now an OH&S issue.....no Pumper Tankers in Intergrated Brigades.....so members outside these arrangements can use the vehicle....Please Explain?

Bad enough the OO tried to pull the wool over our eyes , but what use is the Volunteer Charter or an other agreement if the UFU can become the umpire on all matters , move away from agreements and Brigade planning to flex there muscle...what are we suposed to be classed as second class in our own Station......time to fight for our rights , if The Volunteer Charter is the document that we look to for guidance ,it needs to be empowered and embraced by the people that signed it......a peice of paper is just that unless it has some worth . I am yet to be convinced that it is more that just chest thumping.
Website Comment

Ladies and Gents Its time for all Volunteers to take a leaf out of the UFU's book and stand together and tell the CFA and the UFU and its members that we are not going to be treated like this, we are not going to put up with second class conditions and training, The next Thing before we know it it will be total segregation Vols to the Back staff to the front "No Vols Here" What does all this sound like ?

I urge every volunteer member to rally against the CFA and THe UFU I ask that the VFBV arranges a rally so that we can all tell the CFA the UFU and the State Govt That we are not going to sit by and let all our rights be washed down the toilet

Everyone who reads this should request the the VFBV arranges a rally asap.
Volunteer, District Withheld

Volunteer disrespect.

Enough is enough! - the real issue here is not being unfairly disadvantaged because we choose to volunteer. Volunteers are proud of what we do and are willing to contribute but NOT at the expense of our rights and dignity. As a volunteer I do not want to dictate staff wages and conditions, I hope all staff get a proper wage and the best conditions they can - they deserve this and better and I don't care if they are members of the UFU, this is not the issue, it is only clouding the truth - The issue is that the Volunteer charter has been ignored by Government and CFA and volunteers rights have been eroded to being "unincluded third parties". (sic Mick Burke CFA CEO).

We are well under resourced, have insufficient tools to do the job and are not supported in many cases. We are not consulted on things which have a direct impact on us untill after the event, if at all, and even then it is a condescending and patronisingly feeble attempt to get back in our favour. Come on Government and CFA, include us in matters which impact on us before you write policy, employ more firefighters or spend money. The Bushfire Royal Commission missed one key element - it made no recommendations to improve the volunteer capacity or spirit. It recognised the importance of volunteers but took us for granted assuming we would always be around - again the indemic ignorance of volunteers even at the BRC level. 
A simple ask, Please put something in place by including us in the discussions to ensure our rights are protected and enforced and then you will see the numbers of volunteers grow and you won't need as many career people to fill the gap created by discregard, complacency and disrespect.
Volunteer, District 4

The CFA needs to man up if all the volunteers walk out then what would thay do . Its all about the STAFF STAFF and UFU what about the vols stand up for what is right CFA.
Volunteer, District 8

Might i just say maybe the association has seemed to be just looking after running for to long and now it seems too late?The Union is strong and in front - it may be time for strong action
Volunteer, District 7

VFBV you need to stop sitting on the fence writing comments in face book and having Vols write comments in the Weekly Times ect. Arrange a rally NOW

We cant sit by any longer, I know of a brigade that had 50 Vols its now down to under 30 and the OIC (staff) is not allowing them to recruit GET OFF THE BLOODY FENCE LETS RALLY NOW.
Volunteer, District 14

Now is the time for all Volunteers to actively seek response from all candidates for the up coming state elections. and go with the candidate that will look after volunteers interests, and not their union mates.
Volunteer for 45 years, District 2

Great ! The poor Ambos get 100 staff who actually work full time and all night, but the CFA gets another 342 who sleep through the night !
Volunteer, District 8

A wise old fire fighter once said to me after returning home from a central council meeting at fiskville, the c.f.a is buggered - its board is rotting from the core out, i just laughed at him. He told me this 10 years ago, if he was alive today he would be laughing at me.
Volunteer, District 4

[Re the comment on SES taking the influx of disenchanted CFA volunteers]...The SES vols are even worse off - their board is stacked with Labor Party appointees with just ONE vol, and their association isn't represented at all.

I hope everyone here is prepared to step up and support VFBV - how many brigades don't even have a rep?
Volunteer, District 14

The CFA is letting all Volunteers down, with the way they have signed our rights away. We as Volunteers need to take action now. We all should write to our local member and ask what they are going to do for us after the next election if elected. We should also send Brumby a message that we are p\'d off and vote him out. 60000 votes against his party would send a clear message that he has let the volunteers down and we are not going to accept it.

We cant be the same as the UFU and take strike action or put bans in place because we all think to much of the communities where we live, if the shoe was on the other foot none of the brothers would hesitate to take action and put bans in place I urge all volunteers to make a stand.
Volunteer, District 14

I am a concerned volunteer at a urban intrigrated station. We have been told that the Pumper Tankers that were to be delivered to Intrigrated stations will not be coming due to the UFU and the pressure their members have put on the CFA. They say its because of OH&S issues, I know for a fact its because the CFA tried to take a stand against the UFU early on and build the trucks to suit all.

What gives the UFU the right to say the truck is no good for our members however give it to the Volunteer station down the road they will love it. IF there is OH&S concerns, the CFA and the UFU have a duty of care to all to explain the faults / issues and rectify said issues and then seed the units into the brigades that they were meant to go to.The ops teams at all these brigades did risk assessments and decided that the pumper tankers were the vehicles to suit their needs.

The CFA needs to take a stand against the UFU and fix the OH&S issues if that is the case or if there is no OH&S issues put the units into service at the brigades. Let them take action and lets get the media involved and show them that the UFU has only one concern its members and conditions not the COMMUNITY. The UFU members mostly dont live in the area where they work as such the care factor is low. Its time that the VFBV and the volunteers said enough is enough. CFA take control and put the UFU on notice that we are not going to stand for it any longer Let the staff go on strike. I would take time of work as would many other Vols to keep my community safe.
Volunteer, District 14

I'm disgusted at the way the EBA has been accepted. The CFA was a magnificent organisation of selfless, honourable people but from what I've seen over the last 5 years, the whole structure has begun to implode and will soon be unrecognisable. Brigade Captain, District 8

The CFA Board has seriously let the volunteers down. Lately it seems CFA and the government have been on a mission to put hurdles in the volunteers' way. CFA volunteers are sick of the hollow pats on the back from CFA/government after each major event. Volunteer, District 10

The current attitude of CFA and the Government makes a mockery of the Volunteer Charter. The introduction of the new Pumper Tanker into Integrated Brigades is being controlled by the UFU, CFA appears to be unable to make decisions based on operational needs rather than union/political influence. Volunteers in some Integrated Brigades are being treated like second class citizens and can't doing anything unless the staff agree to it whilst the staff appear to be able to do what they want and get what they want. Is it time we marched on Parliament House and handed back to the Government our copies of the Volunteer Charter? We need to do something sooner rather later.
Volunteer, District 14

Firstly I would like to say that this is real issue that must be dealt with a campaign that the union and the State Government will sit-up and take notice of. I would like to see the VFBV take the bull by the horns and take this issue all the way to the State Government, it was only last year that we saw again volunteers protecting people and those same volunteers need the training to help them protect themselves and the community that we live in today. I would like to say that I am a union member of the TWU and the UFU must protect their members but this goes against the Volunteer charter that the State Government signed.
Volunteer, District 14

Unfortunately the dogmatic UFU behind the scenes just sees Volunteers as "scabs" taking legitimate fire fighting work from career comrades, brothers and union members. Union members are OO, OM now under one EA, providing a closed career path only to entrenched union members influenced by the UFU doctrine, and managed via intense personal pressure from union officials. As you will often hear sorry we cannot do anything about it, since it is "the law" To break ranks you are now turning your back on ALL other union comrades in all issues affecting any aspect of the CFA. There is "strength in unity" but there is all so subservient pressure that can be used to unduly influence any decisions, hence the union officials hold a power position, in regards to any CFA decision. The prime goal of the union is to remove "scabs" and increase pay and conditions to members at any cost, especially when this goal can be veiled behind any other hidden agenda, that achieves the same outcome. The union is patient in in pursuit of power and influence, preferring stealth and legal trickery to slowly advance it's primary agenda. The volunteer charter is not "the law" and like the vital valued Victorian campaign, just a lip service pat on the back, similar to "yes you have been a good child, now go and play", leaving the decisions to the professionals. What ever happened to one CFA? It seemed the union didn't like that approach, the VFBV should be lobbying for the ONE CFA policy, with the actual integration of both volunteer and career staff, same training, same rank, same qualifications..... Volunteer, District Withheld

Here we see yet another under-handed dealing by the Government without consultation. Perhaps its just another sweetheart deal with a labour party supporter prior to the election. I hope the SES can handle the influx of volunteers as those within the CFA see their voice continually not being heard and even more money thrown at the higher levels of the bureaucracy, whilst the volunteers can\'t even get wet weather gear. The 60,000 volunteers in the CFA need to think long and hard about the forthcoming election. Ask your local candidates where they stand on volunteer support and the future funding of the CFA at volunteer level. Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr.Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free. There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard. Volunteer, District 23

It appears that it is about time that a rally is organised... When the UFU wants their way or wants to get there point across to the CFA, Government & the Community, they stage a rally! Why have the Volunteers not had a rally? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA. Many people I talk to believe that the UFU is also their for the Volunteers and that Volunteers are well looked after. We all know that this is not the case and maybe it's time that we did something about. I like many others are proud to be a Volunteer Firefighter, however over the past couple of years I have started to lose my dedication and respect for the CFA, and if it continues I will join the list of many others who are going to leave. VFBV does a great job working with the Volunteers. But maybe its time they started to get out to the stations more often and also start applying some Union like tactics before it is too late.
Volunteer, District 14

Some small stations don't even have a bloody dunny or for that matter water! 
Website Comment

Without the volunteers the CFA is GONE!!! Start listening CFA . I strongly suggest the CFA involve the Volunteers & learn from all those experienced fire-fighters.Listen CFA - or you will have even less Volunteers support this season. We are sick of "change for change sake" stuff - Many of we older & experienced volunteers do not have the respect of the current CFA so how on earth are the newer volunteers going to accept the CFA's rotten attitude other than by walking out & leaving the permanent staff to keep on stuffing up what WAS a mighty organisation of times by. Wake up Mr. Brumby - you are not listening either. You are all talk & won't listen to we Volunteers either. The State of Victoria is at an all-time low in Volunteer morale & both the CFA & Government need to take a look at their own attitude to Volunteers & embrace these supportive people who give of their time so freely. Wake up & listen - for goodness sake!!!
Website Comment

You only have to look at the stuff up with the new structral turnout gear. We are being treated as a joke at CFA 
Website Comment

Volunteers give up their evening and or days to train to better serve the community. They leave their families and friends to go to emergencies in their time. We need to give them more support.
Website Comment

I think [CFA] are serious and they believe they know what is best. It is understanding that we mean consult before deciding, they seem to be prepared to consult after the decision is taken. 
Website Comment

In my time I have found CFA uses the charter after an incident to cover their positions. 
Website Comment

I feel that CFA is more and more being controlled by the UFU. As a member of an integrated Brigade it appears the staff get what ever they want but no so the volunteers. The right of veto held by the UFU is very strong. Our Brigade has had a new Pumper/Tanker allocated (it is waiting at the DMO's) but it will not come to the Brigade until (if ever) the UFU gives it's approval and then they are trying to get Heavy Tankers allocated to all Integrated stations whether they need them or not. 
Website Comment

It is clear from the manner and methods used regarding the Region boundary changes that the Board and the some parts of CFA don't give a toss about the vols. They only care about keeping in the good books with a shoddy government. Get rid of them all and hopefully a new Board will consult with the vols before commiting to important decisions. Ignoring the VFBV and the Vols concerns regarding the EB is just another example of their ignorance. When will it stop? 
Website Comment

The CFA Board including the VFBV representatives on the board should be ashamed of the lack of consultation over the Boundary Alignment issue. No consultation was attempted until the CEO let the cat out of the bag with his blog. Absolutely shameful! They should hane their heads in shame.
Website Comment

Suggest CFA executive and others in the CFA policy decision structure, be given a test to assess their knowledge of the Charter. Results to be published. Website Comment

The Volunteer Charter obligations were not met from CFA in regards towards the initial consultation on Boundary Alignment. What consultation? when our CFA CEO blogged on CFA Connect!! 
Website Comment

As an active Operational firefighter, I missed out on First Aid training due to lack of spaces. On WIN TV tonight, this issue was raised, stating that funding was needed to cover wages for the extra career firefighters being employed. This is alarming if our training is being sacrificed to meet union demands. I strongly support the claim made on the TV programme tonight, that all Operational volunteers should receive First Aid training. Personally, I would like to do First Aid training. 
Volunteer, District 12

I would also take issue with the statement that pay and working conditions of paid firefighters is purely a matter between employer and employees. I believe all taxpayers, including volunteers, have the right to know where our tax dollars are going. The community needs to fully understand the cost of employing extra firefighters is not just in the generous pay and conditions but the cost of station modifications for sleeping quarters etc. 
Volunteer, District 7

We're being shafted. 
Volunteer, District 8

Friday, 01 March 2013 11:15

CFA/UFU EBA Agreement (2010)

Written by

CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

CFA’s newly signed industrial agreement significantly disadvantages CFA volunteers, and yet was concluded without consultation with the volunteers. The briefing below has gone to all Victorian State MPs.

Attn: Victorian State MPs - Thursday, 9 September 2010 
CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers is concerned that the CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement with the firefighters’ union is a major setback for Victoria’s volunteer fire fighting resource.

This industrial deal significantly disadvantages volunteers and was concluded without reference to them, departing from the CFA’s signed commitment to involving volunteers in decisions that affect them.

The industrial agreement goes beyond normal union matters such as pay and conditions, and seeks to regulate CFA operations and management of other staff and volunteers.

In making this deal, CFA has committed itself to processes and practices that should relate to the 1% of their workforce the agreement covers, yet inextricably impacts heavily on another 97% (the CFA volunteers) who have had no say and, it would seem, no rights.

The CFA’s deal with the union puts restrictions on volunteers by;

  • Controlling and restricting volunteer training arrangements
  • Including a clause designed to prevent volunteers making submissions on issues involving them
  • Preventing the use of paid firefighters on day shift allocation to support volunteer brigades, unless it is part of a progression to a 24 hour staffed fire station, whether the community needs it or not
  • Blocking experienced volunteers and other suitable industry candidates from entering paid employment with CFA in jobs they are qualified and experienced to do.

The industrial agreement represents another hurdle in the path for access to and adequacy of training for volunteers, endorses a push towards more paid staff firefighters simply to add to union membership and is a departure from the Volunteer Charter, in which Government and CFA agreed to involve volunteers in any decision which affects them.

The Volunteer Charter was signed the Premier, Police and Emergency Services Minister and CFA Chairman in October 2008 to much fanfare.

VFBV wrote to the CFA, Minister and Premier in February 2010, listing 12 points of concern with the enterprise bargaining negotiations that were then under way, but volunteers were still excluded from having their voice heard.

CFA’s vast volunteer fire fighting resource has proven itself to be both professional and irreplaceable.

VFBV stresses that if the state is to retain that protection, there must be greater priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity, not just in numbers but in levels of training and equipment of brigades.

The CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement is a setback for that vital community resource.

The briefing to MPs was based on the following expert analysis of how the CFA’s industrial agreement affects volunteers.


Summary: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

The Agreement is larger in size (running to over 240 pages) than its predecessors and is a complex document spelling out not simply traditional industrial matters such as pay, expenses, leave and career structure but also seeks to regulate aspects of CFA operations and management that govern its own members, other staff and volunteers.

The common law Deed of Agreement between CFA and the UFU which is the companion agreement to the Enterprise Agreement has not been seen by VFBV – we have requested a copy but it has not as yet been received. We therefore do not know as yet the full impact of the industrial arrangements between the CFA, Government and UFU.

Consequently, this analysis is based on the Enterprise Agreement only.

After the CFA and the Government had agreed to the new arrangements with the UFU, the Minister advised in a meeting with VFBV representatives that an impact analysis of the arrangements on volunteers was available from the CFA. In a subsequent meeting between the Boards of CFA and VFBV we were advised that such an analysis had not been done. CFA CEO Mick Bourke is now preparing such an assessment and it should be available soon.

The following summary points represent our conclusions on the Agreement we have been provided.

Following these points is a more detailed analysis of the Agreement against the 12 issues we submitted to the CFA and Government in February this year concerning matters which were to be negotiated between CFA, Government and the UFU.

In Summary, we would make the following general points:

  1. There is no commitment or acknowledgement that CFA is a volunteer based organisation despite the fact that over 97% of the CFA workforce is volunteer. In fact, apart from a number of references to volunteers being in various fashions regulated by the terms of the Agreement, it is more like an MFB style agreement which of course is designed for an all-paid workforce organisation.

  2. It establishes a regime and processes for determining a host of matters that impact volunteers but excludes volunteers/VFBV from participating in those processes. The clauses and schedules dealing with training are a significant example of this.

  3. Directly impacts CFA’s capacity to provide support to volunteer brigades. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” stops any future permanent allocation of day manning to support brigades. From here on, new day manning can only be used as a short interim step to full 24/7 manning.

  4. Restricts CFA’s capacity to meet its obligations. For example, it limits who can provide community education and Clauses 13 & 15 institute a regime where urgently needed actions or initiatives can be subject to very lengthy delays unless the UFU agree to such actions.

  5. This is an expensive agreement and the allocation of 342 new paid firefighters (nearly a 60% increase in paid operations staff) will add greatly to CFA’s total costs. It is unclear as to whether these addition costs will be fully met from new Government approved funding or whether savings in other areas of CFA budget will have to be made. If the latter, there are obviously concerns for volunteers and the effects it will have on volunteer support.

  6. VFBV supports genuine and informed consultation by CFA with volunteers and its paid workforce and it is right and proper that these rights are guaranteed by binding documents. However, this Agreement between CFA and UFU goes well beyond consultation and perpetuates the growth in UFU dominance in CFA management matters and attempts to exclude volunteer input and influence on matters affecting volunteers. This is best exemplified by Clause 6.2 of the Agreement which says:


6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

Terms and conditions within the Agreement include matters directly affecting volunteers be it training matters, day shift manning support needs or support from CSF type staff.

This summary is based on the following detailed analysis.


Detailed Assessment: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

In its letter(s) to the Chairman and CEO on this matter VFBV made the following over-arching points:

  • VFBV remains committed to a volunteer based CFA organised on the current integrated model of volunteers and paid staff.

  • Reiterated VFBV’s very strong view that for this model to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Victoria there must be greater organisational priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity across the state.

  • That this included ensuring that there are no industrial barriers or restrictions to achieving this aim.

  • VFBV also stated their belief that any relevant industrial agreements and paid staff position descriptions should recognise and acknowledge the community based volunteer nature and organisation of CFA.

  • VFBV specifically highlighted the fact they do not seek to in any manner interfere in the lawful negotiations between CFA and any union on matters pertaining to the employee-employer relationship under the relevant industrial relations legislation where such matters do not impinge on legitimate volunteer interests.

[Note: Letters were sent to the Premier and Minister on 26 February noting VFBV concerns about the impact on volunteers by and arising from sections of UFU industrial agreements. This correspondence included a copy of our letter to the CFA detailing our over-arching concerns and the 12 points of our submission (listed below). Despite persistent follow-up by VFBV with the Premier, Minister and CFA, there was no consultation/discussion with VFBV or written response on these issues prior to the CFA concluding and Government agreeing to the new industrial arrangements with the UFU in late August 2010.]

In the letter to CFA, VFBV made the following submission regarding the CFA-UFU Operational Staff Agreement:

1) Scope of Agreement: Limit any inappropriate scope of agreement by including introductory clause: ‘Nothing in this agreement will limit or prevent in anyway whatsoever the recruitment, training, deployment, utilization and activities of CFA Volunteers and other emergency volunteers by the CFA in meeting its statutory duties and obligations.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. Over 97% of the CFA workforce is made up of volunteers. Paid operations staff comprises less than 1% of CFA workforce and yet they are increasingly a dominant force over CFA management. This clause would have provided clear and unambiguous protection of volunteers and volunteerism in the CFA from industrial interference as both a matter of principle and law. Our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

2) Objectives of Agreement: In the Objectives clause of agreement add the following words to the first sentence: ‘including the maintenance and growth of CFA volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. It would be appropriate that a key paid staff industrial agreement not only recognised this fact and was clear that a principal role of paid staff was to optimise volunteer and community capacity. Again, our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

It is worth noting that under the Application of Agreement, Clause 6, there is a curious new clause:

6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

The wording is such that it would be used to prevent volunteers/VFBV making successful representations on those matters which impact volunteers either in the Enterprise Agreement or flowing from it (whether intended or not).

3) Position Descriptions: That position descriptions attached to the Agreement be suitably amended so that the section detailing ‘Primary Purpose of Position’ incorporates the following or similar words: ‘Assist and support the maintenance and growth of CFA Volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies’. That ‘Key Result Areas’ of those position descriptions be amended by the insertion of the following words or similar: ‘Contribute to and support the growth of CFA volunteerism and ongoing development of CFA volunteer personnel for operational and organisational performance’.

RESULT: Position Descriptions for Operations Officer and Operations Manager are contained in Schedule 11 of the Enterprise Agreement. PDs for other positions are not detailed and assumed to be the same as current. There is no commitment in any PDs in ‘Primary Purpose/Objectives of Position’ or ‘Key Result Areas’ to anything even remotely similar to the words/sentiment requested. This omission means there is no stated obligation or work focus for paid staff to support the most fundamental of CFA objectives – supporting and growing CFA Volunteerism. The inclusion of such a key organisational objective is usually standard in position descriptions.

4) Remove any impediments to Volunteer Training and improve Volunteer access to training: Noting that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of volunteer training and the need for flexible training arrangements to meet volunteer needs and circumstances, remove any clauses or provisions which act as impediments to effectively meeting volunteer training requirements including limits on the use of appropriately qualified paid sessional instructors.

RESULT: At first reading there appears to be a slight improvement in CFA’s ability to access non-employee paid trainers (including sessional instructors) when paid instructors and qualified operations staff are not available to meet volunteer training needs. However, the actual process for engaging and using non-employee paid sessional instructors seems complex and difficult to practically implement.

The relevant clause in the Enterprise Agreement (99.2.2) provides that:

a) The relevant session must be indentified in advance as part of the current training syllabus or assessment syllabus;

b) The indentified instructor is absent through sickness or other unavoidable cause;

c) It can be demonstrated that the session is of an urgent nature and must take place;

d) Other career instructors, Leading Firefighters, Station Officers, Operations Officers or volunteers (unpaid) within a 100km radius cannot deliver that urgent session and it cannot be rescheduled;

e) Then CFA can source appropriate (non-employee paid) instructors to deliver that session.

These lengthy and seemingly rigid procedures appear to effectively continue the limits on the use of non-employee paid sessional trainers previously imposed by the UFU and thereby limit CFA’s capacity to flexibly meet volunteer training support requirements. This has been a long standing concern of volunteers which we sought to have addressed in our submission to CFA and Government. We will query CFA on the process they intend to use in meeting these Enterprise Agreement procedures so as to ensure volunteer training needs are met, including volunteer friendly timetabling and location needs.

An area of further concern is the apparent restrictions on PAD instructor working hours and the consequences for after hours volunteer training. The cost implications for CFA in meeting these requirements may be a significant disincentive for CFA to schedule after hours training for volunteers.

More generally, training arrangements are regulated by:

a) Clause 26 (Contracting Out/Maintenance of Classifications) requiring that training must be delivered first and foremost by any ‘employees in the classifications in the agreement directly employed by CFA’ except volunteers providing services as volunteers without remuneration;

b) Clause 93 (Improved Skills Enhancement and Training Delivery Arrangements) which provides for “The joint consultative process to review a broad range of training and development related matters will continue”. Specific matters for this CFA-UFU consultative arrangement includes “Processes to enable career personnel to provide competency based training and assessment for volunteers”. There is no role for volunteers/VFBV to be part of this consultation process;

c) Schedule 5 “Training Framework” appears binding on volunteers despite the fact that there has been no discussion or consultation with volunteers/VFBV. Clause 93.2 specifies that the parties (UFU & CFA) will revise this schedule within the first 6 months of the Enterprise Agreement. Again, there is no role for volunteers /VFBV in this stated process; and,

d) Schedule 6 “Joint Statement on Operational Training and Assessment” by CFA/UFU, states that all firefighters (career or volunteer) must have the competencies and skills to undertake the tasks required of them and that the operational training standards must be consistent across the CFA. The competencies, skills and training standards are imposed under the processes spelt out in the Enterprise Agreement. Under the heading ‘Training Delivery’ in schedule 6 (second dot point) it states: “Where paid operational training is delivered outside the AFC based Framework such training must be delivered and assessed by a process agreed by the parties” (ie. CFA and UFU). The effect of this is to give UFU further control over training.

The appointment of instructors continues to be industrially regulated and limited by Clause 99 ‘Terms and Conditions of Employment for Instructors’. Under this clause the UFU continue to have a dominant role in determining the eligibility of candidates for instructor positions, the criteria for selecting appointees as well as membership of Instructor Interview Panels. Despite the fact that training is a fundamentally important issue for volunteers we have no representation in consulting or participating in these matters. Clause 6.2 (set out above) seems to make it a breach of the Enterprise Agreement if we were to be so engaged.

5) Enable lateral entry/secondment of suitably qualified candidates to any level of rank or role within CFA without industrial impediment: To maximize CFA effectiveness in and through local communities remove impediments to lateral entry/secondment for qualified volunteers and other qualified people into any level of rank or role within CFA for which the CFA determines they are competent; that relevant volunteer experience and qualifications and recognition of prior learning based on experience be part of any relevant CFA qualification assessment regarding lateral entry.

RESULT: In a nutshell, restrictions on secondment and lateral entry remain rather than being a matter for CFA management selecting best available candidate for a position.

Clause 28 “Secondment and Lateral Entry” sets out the regulation of and procedures for secondment or lateral entry to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above. Secondment/lateral entry to positions below Leading Firefighter is prevented by the Enterprise Agreement.

Under the Clause, CFA firefighters shall be given priority for secondments and appointments/promotions to vacancies.

In the event there is a need to second to a long term vacant position (for up to 2 years) and there is no (suitable) candidate available within CFA paid firefighting staff, secondees can be secured externally provided they are an operational firefighting employee of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand. They must also hold the same or equivalent rank as that of the position to which they are seconded. Qualified and experienced volunteers and firefighters from private industry are ineligible for secondment.

Where permitted by the Enterprise Agreement, lateral entry to a position can only occur where the position has been advertised at least twice internally in CFA to operational firefighters. If there is no suitable applicant, CFA shall second someone to the position under the secondment rules (above). If there is still a vacancy at the end of any secondment period, the position has to be advertised internally once more. If there is no internal applicant, the secondee can be offered the position. If the secondee refuses the position (or in the case there was no secondment was secured) only then may the CFA seek external applications.

The actual lateral entry rules set out in the Enterprise Agreement are that:

a) Lateral entry is restricted to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above;

b) Applications can only be received from operational firefighting employees of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand;

c) Any applicant must hold the same or equivalent rank as the position advertised;

d) The successful applicant will undertake a short course on CFA specific requirements and relevant skills.

Qualified and experienced volunteers are prevented from being laterally appointed to operational positions in CFA under these limitations. Operational firefighters from private firefighting services are also excluded. Even operational employees of recognised fire services are excluded if their application represents a promotion for them.

Sub Clause 99.1.2 of the Enterprise Agreement regulates the appointment, promotion or transfer of instructors “who is or was an external applicant or external appointee” to any other classification or position referred to in or covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

In full this sub clause reads:

“An instructor who is or was an external applicant or external appointee may not be appointed, promoted or transferred, and the CFA will not appoint, promote or transfer an external applicants or external appointee, to any classification or position referred to in or covered by the Agreement other than in accordance with this clause”.

Sub Clause 99.7.7 limits the lateral movement of such instructors into operational roles solely to those agreed with the UFU.

Clause 122 of the Agreement regulates lateral entry to positions of Operations Officer and Operations Manager. The provisions of this Clause require that;

a) the CFA has to demonstrate that no suitably qualified internal applicant exists;

b) the position must be advertised internally on two occasions;

c) only then proceed to either appoint an internal person who does not meet all of the requirements for appointment, or lateral entry of an external candidate.

d) If lateral entry is the selected option there is to be consultation and agreement between the parties to determine a competency based lateral entry process. If the parties cannot agree on this process then it shall be determined by Fair Work Australia (FWA). Such FWA determination shall only be effective for the life of the Bargaining Agreement.

6) Remove any impediment or limit to the provision of support to volunteers by appropriately qualified or designated paid staff: Recognising that the classification of Brigade Administrative Support Officers (BASOs) was specifically created and funded to provide administrative and organisational support for volunteer brigades, that the classification and functioning of BASOs and any similar classification be removed from the Operational Staff Agreement. Further such Operational Staff Agreement should not hinder, limit or otherwise impact on the role and function of BASOs in the provision of administrative and organisational support for volunteers. In addition to removing this matter from the operation of the subject Agreement, VFBV also submits that CFA explicitly undertake to ensure that the BASO classification is maintained and their number is expanded to enhance support for volunteers. Further, VFBV submits that CFA needs to consider deployment of other resources engaged specifically to proactively build community and volunteer capacity.

RESULT: The Enterprise Agreement contains no clause dealing with BASO or brigade support issues (excepting CSFs – see below).

Sub Clause 26.1 could be applied to limit or exclude brigade support duties performed by non-firefighters where the duties performed are also part of the prescribed duties/work of firefighters (stated as ‘classifications covered by the Agreement’). This was the UFU’s position in negotiations for the 2000 EBA, hence the reference to BASOs in the 2000 and 2002 Operative Staff EBAs.

The application of Point 1 above ran in tandem with this proposal to delete any reference to BASOs. We understand that the regulation of BASOs and other Brigade support matters may be covered by a Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU the full text of which has not been seen.

The Bargaining Agreement still prohibits CFA from appointing Community Support Facilitators and similar classifications and positions in Clause 70.

7) Selection and deployment of suitable vehicles and equipment within CFA be determined in a timely manner according to operational requirements determined by CFA management after proper consultation with relevant paid staff and volunteers. Any express or implied limits under the Agreement on the provision and suitable deployment of vehicles and equipment lawfully declared fit for use by CFA be removed. This should not in any way negate requirements for timely and genuine consultation (but not veto) by CFA with volunteers and paid staff over operational and equipment issues including standards and deployment of such equipment. Real safety issues regarding vehicles and equipment should be strictly dealt with under relevant occupational health and safety laws and not under an industrial agreement.

RESULT: Clause 92 of the Enterprise Agreement “New Appliances and Equipment” simply provides that “The CFA will use its best endeavours to develop within the first 6 months of this agreement guidelines for the design and specifications of appliances and equipment to be used in any station”.

There seems to be an inference that the CFA and UFU already have a separate agreement on such matters applying up until now and which is to be reviewed for application in the near future but there are no statements to that effect.

In the absence of any exclusion clause, matters related to “design and specification of appliances and equipment” could be argued as matters under Clause 14 “Introduction of Change” and therefore subject to the Agreement’s “Consultative Processes” contained in Clause 13. It could also be a matter for inclusion under the “CFA / UFU Consultative Committee” established under Clause 13.2 for which the terms of reference, membership and working arrangements are yet to be negotiated by the parties. The Bargaining Agreement says they will agree on these matters within six months of the Agreement being lodged with FWA.

In any case, it is a matter that can be made subject to Clause 15 “Dispute Resolution” where change, including introduction of new appliances and equipment, can be significantly delayed because no change can occur during the dispute resolution process which extends through a series of internal procedural steps, then to Fair Work Australia and, seemingly, then to appeals that may be pursued by the UFU from any FWA decision adverse to its interests or position.

Such a matter may also be dealt under Clause 16 ‘Consultation “Officer & Disputes Regarding Consultation and Change” which, if there is not agreement, leads back to Clause 15 the dispute resolution clause. In many ways, these arrangements could be said to be a pocket veto for the UFU – one they have used in the past under similar arrangements as part of negotiations on matters both related and unrelated to a subject dispute.

This matter requires clarification and advice from CFA.

8) Remove any limit or constraint on CFA’s employment and use of appropriately qualified non firefighter community education and related support staff: Whilst noting the important role that all classifications of existing operations staff should play in community education and that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of community education, that there be no limit or constraint placed on CFA in the agreement as to the employment and deployment of community education and support officers to support and supplement volunteers carrying out community education functions as deemed necessary.

RESULT: Under the Bargaining Agreement CFA is limited and constrained in the delivery of community education on fire prevention and awareness.

Clause 71 of the Agreement “Community Education” states that the deliverers of community education on fire prevention and awareness will be career Firefighters/Station Officers and only when they are not available volunteer Firefighters/Officers.

No other classification or employee is allowed to undertake community education duties.

This Clause differentiates between community education as described above and the delivery of special community information campaigns that do not have an educational (ie training) component.

In light of the Bushfires Royal Commission it is surprising that this limitation is included in the Agreement.

9) Consultation arrangements with paid staff not to include effective veto over change or unduly delay needed changes and initiatives: Whilst supporting the need for an effective and genuine consultation and dispute resolution system such a system must not incorporate an effective veto right nor unduly delay change and initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

RESULT: As discussed above in regard to new appliances and equipment, Clauses 13 and 15 of the Agreement enable the UFU to delay for at least a significant period of time any change or initiative by procedural means. In other words, they maintain their effective veto over needed timely change or initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

10) Definition of employment matters under the Agreement: Explicitly, the definition of employment matters in the Operational Staff Agreement must not enable, or purport to enable, any provisions of the Agreement to constrain or limit the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA. A statement in the Agreement making this clear would be appropriate. The Agreement should be limited to core employee entitlement issues such as salaries, wages, allowances, leave entitlements and promotional opportunities. It should not seek to impact on the operational management or organisation of the CFA specified by relevant Victorian legislation.

RESULT: The reference to the ‘Definition of Employment’ as appeared in early negotiation drafts of the Agreement was excluded from the final Agreement. There is no statement or clause in the Agreement that covers this matter.

Consequently, the Enterprise Agreement’s provisions purport to be absolute and unrestricted by the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA established by Victorian Legislation (the CFA Act). In effect, this means that where there is a conflict between what’s in the Agreement (or what it authorises) registered under Federal industrial law and the powers, duties and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA created under Victorian law, it is a matter of constitutional legal interpretation and litigation, unless one side backs down.

As noted in this document (and there are other examples) there are a number of clauses which impact on operational management and organisation of the CFA so the constitutional legal issues are matters of consequence in the application of this Agreement in the CFA. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” purports to restrict the Chief Officer and the CFA’s capacity to make staffing decisions based on operational need. A fuller discussion of Clause 80 is set out below under Point 12.

Clause 6 of the Agreement “Application of Agreement” it clearly states that the Agreement applies to and covers “all employees engaged in or performing work that is or may be performed by an employee engaged in a classification or occupation referred to in this agreement”. This is a very broad clause which when read literally means that the UFU can apply its rights and powers under the Agreement to in effect regulate the work done by non-UFU employees of CFA where there they perform work that can be characterised as the same as, similar to or could be done by classifications under the Agreement.

Under Clause 68, “Career Paths and Opportunities” Sub Clause 68.1 provides that the Enterprise Bargaining Implementation Committee (EBIC) will review in the first 12 months of the Agreement CFA’s recruitment and selection panel procedures. The resulting report will be tabled for consultation and therefore it is subject to disputes procedure if there is no agreement. In this case, FWA will be the determining body of CFA’s recruit and selection panel procedures.

11) Chief Officer and CFA must not be constrained or limited in the performance of their statutory duties by industrial agreements: Remove any purported limitation or constraint on the Chief Officer and CFA carrying out their express or implied statutory duty to review and determine all brigade, appliance and fireground staffing levels and requirements to meet CFA community service and safety obligations including the redeployment of paid staff positions to other locations as may be required (subject to suitable transfer allowances and arrangements which are an employment matter).

RESULT: Previous EBA clauses covering Board of Reference on staffing, the criteria for staffing review and new brigade staffing have been removed from this Agreement. The fate of the more powerful 2008 staffing ‘Disputes Panel’ (ie, the Merriman Disputes panel also known as the Board of Reference) set up under a separate Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU is unknown.

Clause 27 of the Agreement, “Safe Staffing Levels” sets down for the first time in CFA the concept of a minimum number of paid staff on shift designated at the current level of 99. The location and rank of said staff is set down in Schedule 1 to the Agreement as is the number and rank of employees allocated to other (non-shift) positions. As the parties reach agreement on new staffing levels during the period of the Enterprise Agreement, both Clause 27 and Schedule 1 can be updated by mutual agreement making any new numbers on shift and their deployment fixed in law as new minimums.

Sub Clause 27.3 anticipates state government allocation of new firefighter positions to the CFA arising from the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) under the 2008 industrial arrangements and the Bushfires Royal Commission.

There is a sentence in the sub clause that says “In particular, the parties note that the Commission’s final report makes reference at 10.6.2, to the need to increase the number of career fire fighters and integrated stations”. This seems to present that the Royal Commission made additional paid staffing a recommendation when such was not the case.

In fact, the Commission simply noted in its summary the evidence of the CFA that it intended to increase the number of urban integrated stations from 31 to 38 by 2020 and the evidence of the UFU witness (Mr Thomas) regarding the 2009 Board of Reference (Disputes Panel). The recommendations of the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) which rejected the views and submissions of the CFA Chief Officer is of course subject to serious dispute by VFBV.

Nevertheless, Sub Clause 27.3 is the disguise under which the Government appears to have done an industrial “fix” to avoid political/industrial conflict with the UFU going in to the Victorian election by announcing that an additional 342 paid firefighters for the CFA had been approved under a four year funding package.

It is noteworthy to recall that CFA’s official submission to the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) was that they may need up to 232 additional firefighters/officers by 2020. The Union’s position apparently totalled 684. It seems CFA, in conjunction with elements of Government, ended up making application to Government for the funding of significantly more paid firefighters than it had originally concluded may be needed by 2020.

It seems the “fix” is half what the UFU was seeking to be delivered by 2014/15 in half the time horizon submitted by the CFA. What will happen in the five years thereafter has been left for the next government, or possibly the one after that.

It is unclear exactly when or how these new paid firefighters will be recruited, trained and deployed.

There has been no consultation with VFBV on this matter despite the impact it will have on volunteers in integrated brigades and volunteer brigades to which CFA may seek to allocate 24/7 paid staff.

12) New classification of dedicated day shift firefighters: Recognising that some brigades need temporary and flexible support from paid operations staff from time to time, e.g. seasonal, day shift weekdays, to deal with temporary volunteer availability or during periods of brigade rebuilding, that a day shift fire fighter classification be created to provide such flexible as required support to brigades.

RESULT: There is no day shift classification created as requested. In fact, Clause 80 of the Agreement, “Day Staffing” kills the ability to deploy permanent day shift firefighters to volunteer brigades under the continuum.

From here on in, day shift staffing can only remain at brigades so specified in the Bargaining Agreement (that is, current arrangements noted in Schedule 1) and as an interim step to 10/14 roster staffing regardless of actual need. To implement even this step, the parties (CFA and UFU) must agree in writing to the timetable for achieving 24/7 shift manning. Thus the UFU again has veto power on new staffing of brigades – the dates / timetable covering interim day manning and progression to 10/14 shifts regardless of need. This kills a major feature of the continuum, that is to make staff support decisions based on brigade needs assessment and recognise that most brigades needing staff support only require it weekdays.

A review of existing day shift arrangements may also be provided for under the new Deed of Agreement but we are awaiting advice on this.

 

Friday, 01 March 2013 11:15

CFA/UFU EBA Agreement (2010)

Written by

CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

CFA’s newly signed industrial agreement significantly disadvantages CFA volunteers, and yet was concluded without consultation with the volunteers. The briefing below has gone to all Victorian State MPs.

Attn: Victorian State MPs - Thursday, 9 September 2010 
CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers is concerned that the CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement with the firefighters’ union is a major setback for Victoria’s volunteer fire fighting resource.

This industrial deal significantly disadvantages volunteers and was concluded without reference to them, departing from the CFA’s signed commitment to involving volunteers in decisions that affect them.

The industrial agreement goes beyond normal union matters such as pay and conditions, and seeks to regulate CFA operations and management of other staff and volunteers.

In making this deal, CFA has committed itself to processes and practices that should relate to the 1% of their workforce the agreement covers, yet inextricably impacts heavily on another 97% (the CFA volunteers) who have had no say and, it would seem, no rights.

The CFA’s deal with the union puts restrictions on volunteers by;

  • Controlling and restricting volunteer training arrangements
  • Including a clause designed to prevent volunteers making submissions on issues involving them
  • Preventing the use of paid firefighters on day shift allocation to support volunteer brigades, unless it is part of a progression to a 24 hour staffed fire station, whether the community needs it or not
  • Blocking experienced volunteers and other suitable industry candidates from entering paid employment with CFA in jobs they are qualified and experienced to do.

The industrial agreement represents another hurdle in the path for access to and adequacy of training for volunteers, endorses a push towards more paid staff firefighters simply to add to union membership and is a departure from the Volunteer Charter, in which Government and CFA agreed to involve volunteers in any decision which affects them.

The Volunteer Charter was signed the Premier, Police and Emergency Services Minister and CFA Chairman in October 2008 to much fanfare.

VFBV wrote to the CFA, Minister and Premier in February 2010, listing 12 points of concern with the enterprise bargaining negotiations that were then under way, but volunteers were still excluded from having their voice heard.

CFA’s vast volunteer fire fighting resource has proven itself to be both professional and irreplaceable.

VFBV stresses that if the state is to retain that protection, there must be greater priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity, not just in numbers but in levels of training and equipment of brigades.

The CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement is a setback for that vital community resource.

The briefing to MPs was based on the following expert analysis of how the CFA’s industrial agreement affects volunteers.


Summary: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

The Agreement is larger in size (running to over 240 pages) than its predecessors and is a complex document spelling out not simply traditional industrial matters such as pay, expenses, leave and career structure but also seeks to regulate aspects of CFA operations and management that govern its own members, other staff and volunteers.

The common law Deed of Agreement between CFA and the UFU which is the companion agreement to the Enterprise Agreement has not been seen by VFBV – we have requested a copy but it has not as yet been received. We therefore do not know as yet the full impact of the industrial arrangements between the CFA, Government and UFU.

Consequently, this analysis is based on the Enterprise Agreement only.

After the CFA and the Government had agreed to the new arrangements with the UFU, the Minister advised in a meeting with VFBV representatives that an impact analysis of the arrangements on volunteers was available from the CFA. In a subsequent meeting between the Boards of CFA and VFBV we were advised that such an analysis had not been done. CFA CEO Mick Bourke is now preparing such an assessment and it should be available soon.

The following summary points represent our conclusions on the Agreement we have been provided.

Following these points is a more detailed analysis of the Agreement against the 12 issues we submitted to the CFA and Government in February this year concerning matters which were to be negotiated between CFA, Government and the UFU.

In Summary, we would make the following general points:

  1. There is no commitment or acknowledgement that CFA is a volunteer based organisation despite the fact that over 97% of the CFA workforce is volunteer. In fact, apart from a number of references to volunteers being in various fashions regulated by the terms of the Agreement, it is more like an MFB style agreement which of course is designed for an all-paid workforce organisation.

  2. It establishes a regime and processes for determining a host of matters that impact volunteers but excludes volunteers/VFBV from participating in those processes. The clauses and schedules dealing with training are a significant example of this.

  3. Directly impacts CFA’s capacity to provide support to volunteer brigades. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” stops any future permanent allocation of day manning to support brigades. From here on, new day manning can only be used as a short interim step to full 24/7 manning.

  4. Restricts CFA’s capacity to meet its obligations. For example, it limits who can provide community education and Clauses 13 & 15 institute a regime where urgently needed actions or initiatives can be subject to very lengthy delays unless the UFU agree to such actions.

  5. This is an expensive agreement and the allocation of 342 new paid firefighters (nearly a 60% increase in paid operations staff) will add greatly to CFA’s total costs. It is unclear as to whether these addition costs will be fully met from new Government approved funding or whether savings in other areas of CFA budget will have to be made. If the latter, there are obviously concerns for volunteers and the effects it will have on volunteer support.

  6. VFBV supports genuine and informed consultation by CFA with volunteers and its paid workforce and it is right and proper that these rights are guaranteed by binding documents. However, this Agreement between CFA and UFU goes well beyond consultation and perpetuates the growth in UFU dominance in CFA management matters and attempts to exclude volunteer input and influence on matters affecting volunteers. This is best exemplified by Clause 6.2 of the Agreement which says:


6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

Terms and conditions within the Agreement include matters directly affecting volunteers be it training matters, day shift manning support needs or support from CSF type staff.

This summary is based on the following detailed analysis.


Detailed Assessment: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

In its letter(s) to the Chairman and CEO on this matter VFBV made the following over-arching points:

  • VFBV remains committed to a volunteer based CFA organised on the current integrated model of volunteers and paid staff.

  • Reiterated VFBV’s very strong view that for this model to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Victoria there must be greater organisational priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity across the state.

  • That this included ensuring that there are no industrial barriers or restrictions to achieving this aim.

  • VFBV also stated their belief that any relevant industrial agreements and paid staff position descriptions should recognise and acknowledge the community based volunteer nature and organisation of CFA.

  • VFBV specifically highlighted the fact they do not seek to in any manner interfere in the lawful negotiations between CFA and any union on matters pertaining to the employee-employer relationship under the relevant industrial relations legislation where such matters do not impinge on legitimate volunteer interests.

[Note: Letters were sent to the Premier and Minister on 26 February noting VFBV concerns about the impact on volunteers by and arising from sections of UFU industrial agreements. This correspondence included a copy of our letter to the CFA detailing our over-arching concerns and the 12 points of our submission (listed below). Despite persistent follow-up by VFBV with the Premier, Minister and CFA, there was no consultation/discussion with VFBV or written response on these issues prior to the CFA concluding and Government agreeing to the new industrial arrangements with the UFU in late August 2010.]

In the letter to CFA, VFBV made the following submission regarding the CFA-UFU Operational Staff Agreement:

1) Scope of Agreement: Limit any inappropriate scope of agreement by including introductory clause: ‘Nothing in this agreement will limit or prevent in anyway whatsoever the recruitment, training, deployment, utilization and activities of CFA Volunteers and other emergency volunteers by the CFA in meeting its statutory duties and obligations.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. Over 97% of the CFA workforce is made up of volunteers. Paid operations staff comprises less than 1% of CFA workforce and yet they are increasingly a dominant force over CFA management. This clause would have provided clear and unambiguous protection of volunteers and volunteerism in the CFA from industrial interference as both a matter of principle and law. Our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

2) Objectives of Agreement: In the Objectives clause of agreement add the following words to the first sentence: ‘including the maintenance and growth of CFA volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. It would be appropriate that a key paid staff industrial agreement not only recognised this fact and was clear that a principal role of paid staff was to optimise volunteer and community capacity. Again, our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

It is worth noting that under the Application of Agreement, Clause 6, there is a curious new clause:

6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

The wording is such that it would be used to prevent volunteers/VFBV making successful representations on those matters which impact volunteers either in the Enterprise Agreement or flowing from it (whether intended or not).

3) Position Descriptions: That position descriptions attached to the Agreement be suitably amended so that the section detailing ‘Primary Purpose of Position’ incorporates the following or similar words: ‘Assist and support the maintenance and growth of CFA Volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies’. That ‘Key Result Areas’ of those position descriptions be amended by the insertion of the following words or similar: ‘Contribute to and support the growth of CFA volunteerism and ongoing development of CFA volunteer personnel for operational and organisational performance’.

RESULT: Position Descriptions for Operations Officer and Operations Manager are contained in Schedule 11 of the Enterprise Agreement. PDs for other positions are not detailed and assumed to be the same as current. There is no commitment in any PDs in ‘Primary Purpose/Objectives of Position’ or ‘Key Result Areas’ to anything even remotely similar to the words/sentiment requested. This omission means there is no stated obligation or work focus for paid staff to support the most fundamental of CFA objectives – supporting and growing CFA Volunteerism. The inclusion of such a key organisational objective is usually standard in position descriptions.

4) Remove any impediments to Volunteer Training and improve Volunteer access to training: Noting that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of volunteer training and the need for flexible training arrangements to meet volunteer needs and circumstances, remove any clauses or provisions which act as impediments to effectively meeting volunteer training requirements including limits on the use of appropriately qualified paid sessional instructors.

RESULT: At first reading there appears to be a slight improvement in CFA’s ability to access non-employee paid trainers (including sessional instructors) when paid instructors and qualified operations staff are not available to meet volunteer training needs. However, the actual process for engaging and using non-employee paid sessional instructors seems complex and difficult to practically implement.

The relevant clause in the Enterprise Agreement (99.2.2) provides that:

a) The relevant session must be indentified in advance as part of the current training syllabus or assessment syllabus;

b) The indentified instructor is absent through sickness or other unavoidable cause;

c) It can be demonstrated that the session is of an urgent nature and must take place;

d) Other career instructors, Leading Firefighters, Station Officers, Operations Officers or volunteers (unpaid) within a 100km radius cannot deliver that urgent session and it cannot be rescheduled;

e) Then CFA can source appropriate (non-employee paid) instructors to deliver that session.

These lengthy and seemingly rigid procedures appear to effectively continue the limits on the use of non-employee paid sessional trainers previously imposed by the UFU and thereby limit CFA’s capacity to flexibly meet volunteer training support requirements. This has been a long standing concern of volunteers which we sought to have addressed in our submission to CFA and Government. We will query CFA on the process they intend to use in meeting these Enterprise Agreement procedures so as to ensure volunteer training needs are met, including volunteer friendly timetabling and location needs.

An area of further concern is the apparent restrictions on PAD instructor working hours and the consequences for after hours volunteer training. The cost implications for CFA in meeting these requirements may be a significant disincentive for CFA to schedule after hours training for volunteers.

More generally, training arrangements are regulated by:

a) Clause 26 (Contracting Out/Maintenance of Classifications) requiring that training must be delivered first and foremost by any ‘employees in the classifications in the agreement directly employed by CFA’ except volunteers providing services as volunteers without remuneration;

b) Clause 93 (Improved Skills Enhancement and Training Delivery Arrangements) which provides for “The joint consultative process to review a broad range of training and development related matters will continue”. Specific matters for this CFA-UFU consultative arrangement includes “Processes to enable career personnel to provide competency based training and assessment for volunteers”. There is no role for volunteers/VFBV to be part of this consultation process;

c) Schedule 5 “Training Framework” appears binding on volunteers despite the fact that there has been no discussion or consultation with volunteers/VFBV. Clause 93.2 specifies that the parties (UFU & CFA) will revise this schedule within the first 6 months of the Enterprise Agreement. Again, there is no role for volunteers /VFBV in this stated process; and,

d) Schedule 6 “Joint Statement on Operational Training and Assessment” by CFA/UFU, states that all firefighters (career or volunteer) must have the competencies and skills to undertake the tasks required of them and that the operational training standards must be consistent across the CFA. The competencies, skills and training standards are imposed under the processes spelt out in the Enterprise Agreement. Under the heading ‘Training Delivery’ in schedule 6 (second dot point) it states: “Where paid operational training is delivered outside the AFC based Framework such training must be delivered and assessed by a process agreed by the parties” (ie. CFA and UFU). The effect of this is to give UFU further control over training.

The appointment of instructors continues to be industrially regulated and limited by Clause 99 ‘Terms and Conditions of Employment for Instructors’. Under this clause the UFU continue to have a dominant role in determining the eligibility of candidates for instructor positions, the criteria for selecting appointees as well as membership of Instructor Interview Panels. Despite the fact that training is a fundamentally important issue for volunteers we have no representation in consulting or participating in these matters. Clause 6.2 (set out above) seems to make it a breach of the Enterprise Agreement if we were to be so engaged.

5) Enable lateral entry/secondment of suitably qualified candidates to any level of rank or role within CFA without industrial impediment: To maximize CFA effectiveness in and through local communities remove impediments to lateral entry/secondment for qualified volunteers and other qualified people into any level of rank or role within CFA for which the CFA determines they are competent; that relevant volunteer experience and qualifications and recognition of prior learning based on experience be part of any relevant CFA qualification assessment regarding lateral entry.

RESULT: In a nutshell, restrictions on secondment and lateral entry remain rather than being a matter for CFA management selecting best available candidate for a position.

Clause 28 “Secondment and Lateral Entry” sets out the regulation of and procedures for secondment or lateral entry to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above. Secondment/lateral entry to positions below Leading Firefighter is prevented by the Enterprise Agreement.

Under the Clause, CFA firefighters shall be given priority for secondments and appointments/promotions to vacancies.

In the event there is a need to second to a long term vacant position (for up to 2 years) and there is no (suitable) candidate available within CFA paid firefighting staff, secondees can be secured externally provided they are an operational firefighting employee of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand. They must also hold the same or equivalent rank as that of the position to which they are seconded. Qualified and experienced volunteers and firefighters from private industry are ineligible for secondment.

Where permitted by the Enterprise Agreement, lateral entry to a position can only occur where the position has been advertised at least twice internally in CFA to operational firefighters. If there is no suitable applicant, CFA shall second someone to the position under the secondment rules (above). If there is still a vacancy at the end of any secondment period, the position has to be advertised internally once more. If there is no internal applicant, the secondee can be offered the position. If the secondee refuses the position (or in the case there was no secondment was secured) only then may the CFA seek external applications.

The actual lateral entry rules set out in the Enterprise Agreement are that:

a) Lateral entry is restricted to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above;

b) Applications can only be received from operational firefighting employees of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand;

c) Any applicant must hold the same or equivalent rank as the position advertised;

d) The successful applicant will undertake a short course on CFA specific requirements and relevant skills.

Qualified and experienced volunteers are prevented from being laterally appointed to operational positions in CFA under these limitations. Operational firefighters from private firefighting services are also excluded. Even operational employees of recognised fire services are excluded if their application represents a promotion for them.

Sub Clause 99.1.2 of the Enterprise Agreement regulates the appointment, promotion or transfer of instructors “who is or was an external applicant or external appointee” to any other classification or position referred to in or covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

In full this sub clause reads:

“An instructor who is or was an external applicant or external appointee may not be appointed, promoted or transferred, and the CFA will not appoint, promote or transfer an external applicants or external appointee, to any classification or position referred to in or covered by the Agreement other than in accordance with this clause”.

Sub Clause 99.7.7 limits the lateral movement of such instructors into operational roles solely to those agreed with the UFU.

Clause 122 of the Agreement regulates lateral entry to positions of Operations Officer and Operations Manager. The provisions of this Clause require that;

a) the CFA has to demonstrate that no suitably qualified internal applicant exists;

b) the position must be advertised internally on two occasions;

c) only then proceed to either appoint an internal person who does not meet all of the requirements for appointment, or lateral entry of an external candidate.

d) If lateral entry is the selected option there is to be consultation and agreement between the parties to determine a competency based lateral entry process. If the parties cannot agree on this process then it shall be determined by Fair Work Australia (FWA). Such FWA determination shall only be effective for the life of the Bargaining Agreement.

6) Remove any impediment or limit to the provision of support to volunteers by appropriately qualified or designated paid staff: Recognising that the classification of Brigade Administrative Support Officers (BASOs) was specifically created and funded to provide administrative and organisational support for volunteer brigades, that the classification and functioning of BASOs and any similar classification be removed from the Operational Staff Agreement. Further such Operational Staff Agreement should not hinder, limit or otherwise impact on the role and function of BASOs in the provision of administrative and organisational support for volunteers. In addition to removing this matter from the operation of the subject Agreement, VFBV also submits that CFA explicitly undertake to ensure that the BASO classification is maintained and their number is expanded to enhance support for volunteers. Further, VFBV submits that CFA needs to consider deployment of other resources engaged specifically to proactively build community and volunteer capacity.

RESULT: The Enterprise Agreement contains no clause dealing with BASO or brigade support issues (excepting CSFs – see below).

Sub Clause 26.1 could be applied to limit or exclude brigade support duties performed by non-firefighters where the duties performed are also part of the prescribed duties/work of firefighters (stated as ‘classifications covered by the Agreement’). This was the UFU’s position in negotiations for the 2000 EBA, hence the reference to BASOs in the 2000 and 2002 Operative Staff EBAs.

The application of Point 1 above ran in tandem with this proposal to delete any reference to BASOs. We understand that the regulation of BASOs and other Brigade support matters may be covered by a Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU the full text of which has not been seen.

The Bargaining Agreement still prohibits CFA from appointing Community Support Facilitators and similar classifications and positions in Clause 70.

7) Selection and deployment of suitable vehicles and equipment within CFA be determined in a timely manner according to operational requirements determined by CFA management after proper consultation with relevant paid staff and volunteers. Any express or implied limits under the Agreement on the provision and suitable deployment of vehicles and equipment lawfully declared fit for use by CFA be removed. This should not in any way negate requirements for timely and genuine consultation (but not veto) by CFA with volunteers and paid staff over operational and equipment issues including standards and deployment of such equipment. Real safety issues regarding vehicles and equipment should be strictly dealt with under relevant occupational health and safety laws and not under an industrial agreement.

RESULT: Clause 92 of the Enterprise Agreement “New Appliances and Equipment” simply provides that “The CFA will use its best endeavours to develop within the first 6 months of this agreement guidelines for the design and specifications of appliances and equipment to be used in any station”.

There seems to be an inference that the CFA and UFU already have a separate agreement on such matters applying up until now and which is to be reviewed for application in the near future but there are no statements to that effect.

In the absence of any exclusion clause, matters related to “design and specification of appliances and equipment” could be argued as matters under Clause 14 “Introduction of Change” and therefore subject to the Agreement’s “Consultative Processes” contained in Clause 13. It could also be a matter for inclusion under the “CFA / UFU Consultative Committee” established under Clause 13.2 for which the terms of reference, membership and working arrangements are yet to be negotiated by the parties. The Bargaining Agreement says they will agree on these matters within six months of the Agreement being lodged with FWA.

In any case, it is a matter that can be made subject to Clause 15 “Dispute Resolution” where change, including introduction of new appliances and equipment, can be significantly delayed because no change can occur during the dispute resolution process which extends through a series of internal procedural steps, then to Fair Work Australia and, seemingly, then to appeals that may be pursued by the UFU from any FWA decision adverse to its interests or position.

Such a matter may also be dealt under Clause 16 ‘Consultation “Officer & Disputes Regarding Consultation and Change” which, if there is not agreement, leads back to Clause 15 the dispute resolution clause. In many ways, these arrangements could be said to be a pocket veto for the UFU – one they have used in the past under similar arrangements as part of negotiations on matters both related and unrelated to a subject dispute.

This matter requires clarification and advice from CFA.

8) Remove any limit or constraint on CFA’s employment and use of appropriately qualified non firefighter community education and related support staff: Whilst noting the important role that all classifications of existing operations staff should play in community education and that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of community education, that there be no limit or constraint placed on CFA in the agreement as to the employment and deployment of community education and support officers to support and supplement volunteers carrying out community education functions as deemed necessary.

RESULT: Under the Bargaining Agreement CFA is limited and constrained in the delivery of community education on fire prevention and awareness.

Clause 71 of the Agreement “Community Education” states that the deliverers of community education on fire prevention and awareness will be career Firefighters/Station Officers and only when they are not available volunteer Firefighters/Officers.

No other classification or employee is allowed to undertake community education duties.

This Clause differentiates between community education as described above and the delivery of special community information campaigns that do not have an educational (ie training) component.

In light of the Bushfires Royal Commission it is surprising that this limitation is included in the Agreement.

9) Consultation arrangements with paid staff not to include effective veto over change or unduly delay needed changes and initiatives: Whilst supporting the need for an effective and genuine consultation and dispute resolution system such a system must not incorporate an effective veto right nor unduly delay change and initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

RESULT: As discussed above in regard to new appliances and equipment, Clauses 13 and 15 of the Agreement enable the UFU to delay for at least a significant period of time any change or initiative by procedural means. In other words, they maintain their effective veto over needed timely change or initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

10) Definition of employment matters under the Agreement: Explicitly, the definition of employment matters in the Operational Staff Agreement must not enable, or purport to enable, any provisions of the Agreement to constrain or limit the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA. A statement in the Agreement making this clear would be appropriate. The Agreement should be limited to core employee entitlement issues such as salaries, wages, allowances, leave entitlements and promotional opportunities. It should not seek to impact on the operational management or organisation of the CFA specified by relevant Victorian legislation.

RESULT: The reference to the ‘Definition of Employment’ as appeared in early negotiation drafts of the Agreement was excluded from the final Agreement. There is no statement or clause in the Agreement that covers this matter.

Consequently, the Enterprise Agreement’s provisions purport to be absolute and unrestricted by the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA established by Victorian Legislation (the CFA Act). In effect, this means that where there is a conflict between what’s in the Agreement (or what it authorises) registered under Federal industrial law and the powers, duties and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA created under Victorian law, it is a matter of constitutional legal interpretation and litigation, unless one side backs down.

As noted in this document (and there are other examples) there are a number of clauses which impact on operational management and organisation of the CFA so the constitutional legal issues are matters of consequence in the application of this Agreement in the CFA. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” purports to restrict the Chief Officer and the CFA’s capacity to make staffing decisions based on operational need. A fuller discussion of Clause 80 is set out below under Point 12.

Clause 6 of the Agreement “Application of Agreement” it clearly states that the Agreement applies to and covers “all employees engaged in or performing work that is or may be performed by an employee engaged in a classification or occupation referred to in this agreement”. This is a very broad clause which when read literally means that the UFU can apply its rights and powers under the Agreement to in effect regulate the work done by non-UFU employees of CFA where there they perform work that can be characterised as the same as, similar to or could be done by classifications under the Agreement.

Under Clause 68, “Career Paths and Opportunities” Sub Clause 68.1 provides that the Enterprise Bargaining Implementation Committee (EBIC) will review in the first 12 months of the Agreement CFA’s recruitment and selection panel procedures. The resulting report will be tabled for consultation and therefore it is subject to disputes procedure if there is no agreement. In this case, FWA will be the determining body of CFA’s recruit and selection panel procedures.

11) Chief Officer and CFA must not be constrained or limited in the performance of their statutory duties by industrial agreements: Remove any purported limitation or constraint on the Chief Officer and CFA carrying out their express or implied statutory duty to review and determine all brigade, appliance and fireground staffing levels and requirements to meet CFA community service and safety obligations including the redeployment of paid staff positions to other locations as may be required (subject to suitable transfer allowances and arrangements which are an employment matter).

RESULT: Previous EBA clauses covering Board of Reference on staffing, the criteria for staffing review and new brigade staffing have been removed from this Agreement. The fate of the more powerful 2008 staffing ‘Disputes Panel’ (ie, the Merriman Disputes panel also known as the Board of Reference) set up under a separate Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU is unknown.

Clause 27 of the Agreement, “Safe Staffing Levels” sets down for the first time in CFA the concept of a minimum number of paid staff on shift designated at the current level of 99. The location and rank of said staff is set down in Schedule 1 to the Agreement as is the number and rank of employees allocated to other (non-shift) positions. As the parties reach agreement on new staffing levels during the period of the Enterprise Agreement, both Clause 27 and Schedule 1 can be updated by mutual agreement making any new numbers on shift and their deployment fixed in law as new minimums.

Sub Clause 27.3 anticipates state government allocation of new firefighter positions to the CFA arising from the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) under the 2008 industrial arrangements and the Bushfires Royal Commission.

There is a sentence in the sub clause that says “In particular, the parties note that the Commission’s final report makes reference at 10.6.2, to the need to increase the number of career fire fighters and integrated stations”. This seems to present that the Royal Commission made additional paid staffing a recommendation when such was not the case.

In fact, the Commission simply noted in its summary the evidence of the CFA that it intended to increase the number of urban integrated stations from 31 to 38 by 2020 and the evidence of the UFU witness (Mr Thomas) regarding the 2009 Board of Reference (Disputes Panel). The recommendations of the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) which rejected the views and submissions of the CFA Chief Officer is of course subject to serious dispute by VFBV.

Nevertheless, Sub Clause 27.3 is the disguise under which the Government appears to have done an industrial “fix” to avoid political/industrial conflict with the UFU going in to the Victorian election by announcing that an additional 342 paid firefighters for the CFA had been approved under a four year funding package.

It is noteworthy to recall that CFA’s official submission to the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) was that they may need up to 232 additional firefighters/officers by 2020. The Union’s position apparently totalled 684. It seems CFA, in conjunction with elements of Government, ended up making application to Government for the funding of significantly more paid firefighters than it had originally concluded may be needed by 2020.

It seems the “fix” is half what the UFU was seeking to be delivered by 2014/15 in half the time horizon submitted by the CFA. What will happen in the five years thereafter has been left for the next government, or possibly the one after that.

It is unclear exactly when or how these new paid firefighters will be recruited, trained and deployed.

There has been no consultation with VFBV on this matter despite the impact it will have on volunteers in integrated brigades and volunteer brigades to which CFA may seek to allocate 24/7 paid staff.

12) New classification of dedicated day shift firefighters: Recognising that some brigades need temporary and flexible support from paid operations staff from time to time, e.g. seasonal, day shift weekdays, to deal with temporary volunteer availability or during periods of brigade rebuilding, that a day shift fire fighter classification be created to provide such flexible as required support to brigades.

RESULT: There is no day shift classification created as requested. In fact, Clause 80 of the Agreement, “Day Staffing” kills the ability to deploy permanent day shift firefighters to volunteer brigades under the continuum.

From here on in, day shift staffing can only remain at brigades so specified in the Bargaining Agreement (that is, current arrangements noted in Schedule 1) and as an interim step to 10/14 roster staffing regardless of actual need. To implement even this step, the parties (CFA and UFU) must agree in writing to the timetable for achieving 24/7 shift manning. Thus the UFU again has veto power on new staffing of brigades – the dates / timetable covering interim day manning and progression to 10/14 shifts regardless of need. This kills a major feature of the continuum, that is to make staff support decisions based on brigade needs assessment and recognise that most brigades needing staff support only require it weekdays.

A review of existing day shift arrangements may also be provided for under the new Deed of Agreement but we are awaiting advice on this.


Volunteers Reaction

In recent months, we have been flooded with volunteers’ emails and letters. Below is a small sample. Typical subjects include CFA’s recent union deal, budget cuts and the funding of 342 additional paid firefighters while volunteers face rationing of training and equipment.

If you would like to add your comment, please use the Submit Comment/Feedback button above. Names are always removed to protect your privacy.

The response to the Age re: the Welfare Fund (see Letter to the Editor – VFBV Welfare Fund on VFBV’s Media Releases page) was very well done. Concise, accurate and delivered a positive tone regarding this issue. The author should be congratulated unlike the Age employees responsible for the original article which was an appalling example of journalism. As a long time Age reader I am dismayed at the editorial standards that allow such a poor standard of reporting space on the pages of a once respected broadsheet.
Volunteer, District 23

One question I would like a answer to is we have four members from vfbv on the board,I beleive that the Eba was signed off by all board members.Why did OUR reps from VFBV sign the EBA with out speaking to the vols first. Also I have read on connect that their are still ten points the VFVB would like to know about why cant OUR board members get us a copy of these.I will be at the special meeting the VFBV has called and I will ask this question.
Volunteer, District 13

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "i'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up". There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed. I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty. So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Having read all the current comments, I can only agree, IT IS TIME TO TAKE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!! Until recently I thought I was one of a few who has seen the writing on the wall. Now it seems we are all in agreement. Let's stop 'pussy footing' around and agree at the rally to; Refuse to fill or phone in FIRS reports, DO NOT book 'In Station' after a job (a tactic used by MFB UFU members in the 1990's). Inundate District HQ's with trivial requests as well as O.H.& S. requests, and any other administrative trivial matters. We can still protect our communities and communicate with each other via radio / mobile phone etc. That's why we have Groups. Let's use the UFU's tactics, it works for them. Without we VOLUNTEERS CFA is NOTHING. 
Volunteer, District 14

My question and more so suggestion does not relate to the usual Vol/career staff discussion but is more to do with the way volunteer elections are held. How many brigades members out there disagree with the fact that non operational members have the ability to vote on operational roles. A large proportion of our brigade are part of the running team and play no part in the day to day operation of the brigade, and not one of them attends fire training or calls. So why is it then that they can vote on Lt's that control the members at fires??? With the exception of one of our brigades officers none of the others are respected, nor are they wanted in those positions, but as the non operational members have the power of the vote, they get in. This is certainly not something that is just an issue in my brigade, from speaking to other vols it’s an issue state wide.. once this is sorted we may have people in control of brigades that have the willingness to get in peoples faces and say enough is enough.. and get the treatment we deserve, instead of the "Yes Men" that so many brigades seem to be controlled by... I am certainly one of many that has had enough and is very close to resigning from the CFA after nearly 20 years... 
Volunteer, District 2

I'm amazed at the length of things that happen under the table in CFA looking after the career staff who make up a pittance of the CFA organisation. Our brigade has voted to not put up with this and fight. I encouige all brigades, districts or regons to become aware and active in rasing awairness of the conditions that the EBA will impose on Volinteers. 
Volunteer, District 14

If I may offer a suggestion :
Draft up a sample letter provide that sample letter to every brigade Captain and if possible every CFA firefighter, with a list of the names and addresses of every State politician upper and Lower House and request the brigade members to write/copy and send the letter to their two local politicians (upper and lower house) the letter should demand that they each make representation on our behalf to change the obnoxious clauses (Or Make CFA keep their word to the volunteer organisation). The threat being that if they do not do so within a week or so then we will be asking our brigade members to vote at the State Election on 27 Nov against the encumbent upper and lower house members.

Given the election is only a few weeks away you should move quickly but it can be done.

Immediately after tghe election a similar campaign at the federal level should be commencesd as well as targetting newly elected State MPs . One letter from the president will not win the day 1,000 letters from CFA voters all over the state will!
Volunteer, District 15

As a Volunteer, I'm really interested to see everyone banging on about the Volunteer Charter and how it should become law. Well before we go down this road perhaps we should get our own yard in order one of the principles of the charter for Volunteers to do is to treat CFA employees with a mutual, respectful and active partnership. Well given some of the comments I have seen written by fellow Volunteer members one inparticular referring to career firefighters as cancers is not going to help us.

Is our fight with individual or all the career firefighters or is it with CFA. I think the VFBV Executive needs to lift their game and ensure that we do not get in to a them and us battle with the career firefighters otherwise guess who is going to suffer. The community, thats who.

We need to all remember why we joined the CFA, it was for the community.

I am a very disallusioned volunteer especially when I see personal attacks agains fellow firefighters.
Volunteer, District 22

It appears easy for the party in opposition to make wide-ranging promises which are easily cast aside once that party gains power. Unfortunately as volunteers and voters we have become immune to promises made due to a road that has become littered with many shattered promises made in the heat of the moment driven by the possibility of gaining votes and therefore, power.

With a volunteer base numbering approx 58,000 potential voters, then add partners, family, friends of all volunteers, we could become a very powerful political force which would command respect from those in government.

So the question begs asking - why don't we! Most volunteers join purely to be able to help out their immediate and all communities in times of emergency. Becomming a CFA volunteer is not a politically driven decision - this is the furthest thing on our minds.

It is therefore disheartening to see so many disillusioned volunteers who believe that their basic volunteer needs are now being discarded along that road with the shattered promises without so much as the opportunity to make comment or have meaningful input.

So, why should we believe the opposition when they promise support for the volunteers by way of law and finance - is this all another charade to use volunteers as pawns in their power play?

As for our Association - where are you? Everyone easily recognises the UFU leader - would we so easily recognise our Association leader?

Yes, we will still continue to attend to emergencies, fundraise within our own communities for much needed equipment and 'make do' in relation to communications/training/protective clothing.

WHY - BECAUSE WE ARE VOLUNTEERS AND PROUD TO BE - HELP US CONTINUE TO BE SO PROUD!!!
Volunteer, District 8

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "I'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up".
There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed.
I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty.
So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Why have the Volunteers not had a rally.? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA.
Volunteer, District 14

I get the feeling this is really starting to get to a lot of people … time to start taking our own action I reckon!!

When the regions feel pressure from us it will push to HQ. Try some UFU tactics I reckon, no fire reports, no protected premises sheets, call the RDO to pick up dirty hose … anything that does not actually affect service to the community should be considered in my opinion.
Volunteer, District 7

I would like to thank the VFBV for working so hard against these incompetents who are paid CFA personnel and executive. We appreciate you correcting the words they print and we know they are wrong!!! WE are very grateful for standing up for the volunteers and we all know without them Victoria would BURN!!
Volunteer, Region 24

The EBA is the biggest joke around, you guys really need to read some of the clauses in it, if this was private industry we would be out of business.
Volunteer, District 8

What can I as a volunteer do about it? Who do I need to hassle?
Volunteer, District 14

Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free.

There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard.
Volunteer, District 23

We need to have our say VFBV arrange a rally asap. The CFA has stations falling down around the vols but we can pay STAFF 1 Hours pay to pick up a phone for overtime it’s ****ed. HELP US VFBV
Volunteer, District 8

Why is it that OH&S only applies to staff members , the Pumper Tanker that was due to arrive at my station was left to rust away at the DMO's according to my OO , so to overcome this problem by stelth it was delivered to the station next door...no discussion with my brigades BMT , of course the rumour file was well ahead of the vehicle and now all sorts of backside covering is taking place to try and assure disgruntled members.....UFU members state that the VDC had not signed off on the locker configeration...so it's now an OH&S issue.....no Pumper Tankers in Intergrated Brigades.....so members outside these arrangements can use the vehicle....Please Explain?

Bad enough the OO tried to pull the wool over our eyes , but what use is the Volunteer Charter or an other agreement if the UFU can become the umpire on all matters , move away from agreements and Brigade planning to flex there muscle...what are we suposed to be classed as second class in our own Station......time to fight for our rights , if The Volunteer Charter is the document that we look to for guidance ,it needs to be empowered and embraced by the people that signed it......a peice of paper is just that unless it has some worth . I am yet to be convinced that it is more that just chest thumping.
Website Comment

Ladies and Gents Its time for all Volunteers to take a leaf out of the UFU's book and stand together and tell the CFA and the UFU and its members that we are not going to be treated like this, we are not going to put up with second class conditions and training, The next Thing before we know it it will be total segregation Vols to the Back staff to the front "No Vols Here" What does all this sound like ?

I urge every volunteer member to rally against the CFA and THe UFU I ask that the VFBV arranges a rally so that we can all tell the CFA the UFU and the State Govt That we are not going to sit by and let all our rights be washed down the toilet

Everyone who reads this should request the the VFBV arranges a rally asap.
Volunteer, District Withheld

Volunteer disrespect.

Enough is enough! - the real issue here is not being unfairly disadvantaged because we choose to volunteer. Volunteers are proud of what we do and are willing to contribute but NOT at the expense of our rights and dignity. As a volunteer I do not want to dictate staff wages and conditions, I hope all staff get a proper wage and the best conditions they can - they deserve this and better and I don't care if they are members of the UFU, this is not the issue, it is only clouding the truth - The issue is that the Volunteer charter has been ignored by Government and CFA and volunteers rights have been eroded to being "unincluded third parties". (sic Mick Burke CFA CEO).

We are well under resourced, have insufficient tools to do the job and are not supported in many cases. We are not consulted on things which have a direct impact on us untill after the event, if at all, and even then it is a condescending and patronisingly feeble attempt to get back in our favour. Come on Government and CFA, include us in matters which impact on us before you write policy, employ more firefighters or spend money. The Bushfire Royal Commission missed one key element - it made no recommendations to improve the volunteer capacity or spirit. It recognised the importance of volunteers but took us for granted assuming we would always be around - again the indemic ignorance of volunteers even at the BRC level. 
A simple ask, Please put something in place by including us in the discussions to ensure our rights are protected and enforced and then you will see the numbers of volunteers grow and you won't need as many career people to fill the gap created by discregard, complacency and disrespect.
Volunteer, District 4

The CFA needs to man up if all the volunteers walk out then what would thay do . Its all about the STAFF STAFF and UFU what about the vols stand up for what is right CFA.
Volunteer, District 8

Might i just say maybe the association has seemed to be just looking after running for to long and now it seems too late?The Union is strong and in front - it may be time for strong action
Volunteer, District 7

VFBV you need to stop sitting on the fence writing comments in face book and having Vols write comments in the Weekly Times ect. Arrange a rally NOW

We cant sit by any longer, I know of a brigade that had 50 Vols its now down to under 30 and the OIC (staff) is not allowing them to recruit GET OFF THE BLOODY FENCE LETS RALLY NOW.
Volunteer, District 14

Now is the time for all Volunteers to actively seek response from all candidates for the up coming state elections. and go with the candidate that will look after volunteers interests, and not their union mates.
Volunteer for 45 years, District 2

Great ! The poor Ambos get 100 staff who actually work full time and all night, but the CFA gets another 342 who sleep through the night !
Volunteer, District 8

A wise old fire fighter once said to me after returning home from a central council meeting at fiskville, the c.f.a is buggered - its board is rotting from the core out, i just laughed at him. He told me this 10 years ago, if he was alive today he would be laughing at me.
Volunteer, District 4

[Re the comment on SES taking the influx of disenchanted CFA volunteers]...The SES vols are even worse off - their board is stacked with Labor Party appointees with just ONE vol, and their association isn't represented at all.

I hope everyone here is prepared to step up and support VFBV - how many brigades don't even have a rep?
Volunteer, District 14

The CFA is letting all Volunteers down, with the way they have signed our rights away. We as Volunteers need to take action now. We all should write to our local member and ask what they are going to do for us after the next election if elected. We should also send Brumby a message that we are p\'d off and vote him out. 60000 votes against his party would send a clear message that he has let the volunteers down and we are not going to accept it.

We cant be the same as the UFU and take strike action or put bans in place because we all think to much of the communities where we live, if the shoe was on the other foot none of the brothers would hesitate to take action and put bans in place I urge all volunteers to make a stand.
Volunteer, District 14

I am a concerned volunteer at a urban intrigrated station. We have been told that the Pumper Tankers that were to be delivered to Intrigrated stations will not be coming due to the UFU and the pressure their members have put on the CFA. They say its because of OH&S issues, I know for a fact its because the CFA tried to take a stand against the UFU early on and build the trucks to suit all.

What gives the UFU the right to say the truck is no good for our members however give it to the Volunteer station down the road they will love it. IF there is OH&S concerns, the CFA and the UFU have a duty of care to all to explain the faults / issues and rectify said issues and then seed the units into the brigades that they were meant to go to.The ops teams at all these brigades did risk assessments and decided that the pumper tankers were the vehicles to suit their needs.

The CFA needs to take a stand against the UFU and fix the OH&S issues if that is the case or if there is no OH&S issues put the units into service at the brigades. Let them take action and lets get the media involved and show them that the UFU has only one concern its members and conditions not the COMMUNITY. The UFU members mostly dont live in the area where they work as such the care factor is low. Its time that the VFBV and the volunteers said enough is enough. CFA take control and put the UFU on notice that we are not going to stand for it any longer Let the staff go on strike. I would take time of work as would many other Vols to keep my community safe.
Volunteer, District 14

I'm disgusted at the way the EBA has been accepted. The CFA was a magnificent organisation of selfless, honourable people but from what I've seen over the last 5 years, the whole structure has begun to implode and will soon be unrecognisable. Brigade Captain, District 8

The CFA Board has seriously let the volunteers down. Lately it seems CFA and the government have been on a mission to put hurdles in the volunteers' way. CFA volunteers are sick of the hollow pats on the back from CFA/government after each major event. Volunteer, District 10

The current attitude of CFA and the Government makes a mockery of the Volunteer Charter. The introduction of the new Pumper Tanker into Integrated Brigades is being controlled by the UFU, CFA appears to be unable to make decisions based on operational needs rather than union/political influence. Volunteers in some Integrated Brigades are being treated like second class citizens and can't doing anything unless the staff agree to it whilst the staff appear to be able to do what they want and get what they want. Is it time we marched on Parliament House and handed back to the Government our copies of the Volunteer Charter? We need to do something sooner rather later.
Volunteer, District 14

Firstly I would like to say that this is real issue that must be dealt with a campaign that the union and the State Government will sit-up and take notice of. I would like to see the VFBV take the bull by the horns and take this issue all the way to the State Government, it was only last year that we saw again volunteers protecting people and those same volunteers need the training to help them protect themselves and the community that we live in today. I would like to say that I am a union member of the TWU and the UFU must protect their members but this goes against the Volunteer charter that the State Government signed.
Volunteer, District 14

Unfortunately the dogmatic UFU behind the scenes just sees Volunteers as "scabs" taking legitimate fire fighting work from career comrades, brothers and union members. Union members are OO, OM now under one EA, providing a closed career path only to entrenched union members influenced by the UFU doctrine, and managed via intense personal pressure from union officials. As you will often hear sorry we cannot do anything about it, since it is "the law" To break ranks you are now turning your back on ALL other union comrades in all issues affecting any aspect of the CFA. There is "strength in unity" but there is all so subservient pressure that can be used to unduly influence any decisions, hence the union officials hold a power position, in regards to any CFA decision. The prime goal of the union is to remove "scabs" and increase pay and conditions to members at any cost, especially when this goal can be veiled behind any other hidden agenda, that achieves the same outcome. The union is patient in in pursuit of power and influence, preferring stealth and legal trickery to slowly advance it's primary agenda. The volunteer charter is not "the law" and like the vital valued Victorian campaign, just a lip service pat on the back, similar to "yes you have been a good child, now go and play", leaving the decisions to the professionals. What ever happened to one CFA? It seemed the union didn't like that approach, the VFBV should be lobbying for the ONE CFA policy, with the actual integration of both volunteer and career staff, same training, same rank, same qualifications..... Volunteer, District Withheld

Here we see yet another under-handed dealing by the Government without consultation. Perhaps its just another sweetheart deal with a labour party supporter prior to the election. I hope the SES can handle the influx of volunteers as those within the CFA see their voice continually not being heard and even more money thrown at the higher levels of the bureaucracy, whilst the volunteers can\'t even get wet weather gear. The 60,000 volunteers in the CFA need to think long and hard about the forthcoming election. Ask your local candidates where they stand on volunteer support and the future funding of the CFA at volunteer level. Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr.Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free. There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard. Volunteer, District 23

It appears that it is about time that a rally is organised... When the UFU wants their way or wants to get there point across to the CFA, Government & the Community, they stage a rally! Why have the Volunteers not had a rally? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA. Many people I talk to believe that the UFU is also their for the Volunteers and that Volunteers are well looked after. We all know that this is not the case and maybe it's time that we did something about. I like many others are proud to be a Volunteer Firefighter, however over the past couple of years I have started to lose my dedication and respect for the CFA, and if it continues I will join the list of many others who are going to leave. VFBV does a great job working with the Volunteers. But maybe its time they started to get out to the stations more often and also start applying some Union like tactics before it is too late.
Volunteer, District 14

Some small stations don't even have a bloody dunny or for that matter water! 
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Without the volunteers the CFA is GONE!!! Start listening CFA . I strongly suggest the CFA involve the Volunteers & learn from all those experienced fire-fighters.Listen CFA - or you will have even less Volunteers support this season. We are sick of "change for change sake" stuff - Many of we older & experienced volunteers do not have the respect of the current CFA so how on earth are the newer volunteers going to accept the CFA's rotten attitude other than by walking out & leaving the permanent staff to keep on stuffing up what WAS a mighty organisation of times by. Wake up Mr. Brumby - you are not listening either. You are all talk & won't listen to we Volunteers either. The State of Victoria is at an all-time low in Volunteer morale & both the CFA & Government need to take a look at their own attitude to Volunteers & embrace these supportive people who give of their time so freely. Wake up & listen - for goodness sake!!!
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You only have to look at the stuff up with the new structral turnout gear. We are being treated as a joke at CFA 
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Volunteers give up their evening and or days to train to better serve the community. They leave their families and friends to go to emergencies in their time. We need to give them more support.
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I think [CFA] are serious and they believe they know what is best. It is understanding that we mean consult before deciding, they seem to be prepared to consult after the decision is taken. 
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In my time I have found CFA uses the charter after an incident to cover their positions. 
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I feel that CFA is more and more being controlled by the UFU. As a member of an integrated Brigade it appears the staff get what ever they want but no so the volunteers. The right of veto held by the UFU is very strong. Our Brigade has had a new Pumper/Tanker allocated (it is waiting at the DMO's) but it will not come to the Brigade until (if ever) the UFU gives it's approval and then they are trying to get Heavy Tankers allocated to all Integrated stations whether they need them or not. 
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It is clear from the manner and methods used regarding the Region boundary changes that the Board and the some parts of CFA don't give a toss about the vols. They only care about keeping in the good books with a shoddy government. Get rid of them all and hopefully a new Board will consult with the vols before commiting to important decisions. Ignoring the VFBV and the Vols concerns regarding the EB is just another example of their ignorance. When will it stop? 
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The CFA Board including the VFBV representatives on the board should be ashamed of the lack of consultation over the Boundary Alignment issue. No consultation was attempted until the CEO let the cat out of the bag with his blog. Absolutely shameful! They should hane their heads in shame.
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Suggest CFA executive and others in the CFA policy decision structure, be given a test to assess their knowledge of the Charter. Results to be published. Website Comment

The Volunteer Charter obligations were not met from CFA in regards towards the initial consultation on Boundary Alignment. What consultation? when our CFA CEO blogged on CFA Connect!! 
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As an active Operational firefighter, I missed out on First Aid training due to lack of spaces. On WIN TV tonight, this issue was raised, stating that funding was needed to cover wages for the extra career firefighters being employed. This is alarming if our training is being sacrificed to meet union demands. I strongly support the claim made on the TV programme tonight, that all Operational volunteers should receive First Aid training. Personally, I would like to do First Aid training. 
Volunteer, District 12

I would also take issue with the statement that pay and working conditions of paid firefighters is purely a matter between employer and employees. I believe all taxpayers, including volunteers, have the right to know where our tax dollars are going. The community needs to fully understand the cost of employing extra firefighters is not just in the generous pay and conditions but the cost of station modifications for sleeping quarters etc. 
Volunteer, District 7

We're being shafted. 
Volunteer, District 8

Friday, 01 March 2013 10:44

CFA/UFU EBA Agreement (2010)

Written by

CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

CFA’s newly signed industrial agreement significantly disadvantages CFA volunteers, and yet was concluded without consultation with the volunteers. The briefing below has gone to all Victorian State MPs.

Attn: Victorian State MPs - Thursday, 9 September 2010
CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers is concerned that the CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement with the firefighters’ union is a major setback for Victoria’s volunteer fire fighting resource.

This industrial deal significantly disadvantages volunteers and was concluded without reference to them, departing from the CFA’s signed commitment to involving volunteers in decisions that affect them.

The industrial agreement goes beyond normal union matters such as pay and conditions, and seeks to regulate CFA operations and management of other staff and volunteers.

In making this deal, CFA has committed itself to processes and practices that should relate to the 1% of their workforce the agreement covers, yet inextricably impacts heavily on another 97% (the CFA volunteers) who have had no say and, it would seem, no rights.

The CFA’s deal with the union puts restrictions on volunteers by;

  • Controlling and restricting volunteer training arrangements
  • Including a clause designed to prevent volunteers making submissions on issues involving them
  • Preventing the use of paid firefighters on day shift allocation to support volunteer brigades, unless it is part of a progression to a 24 hour staffed fire station, whether the community needs it or not
  • Blocking experienced volunteers and other suitable industry candidates from entering paid employment with CFA in jobs they are qualified and experienced to do.

The industrial agreement represents another hurdle in the path for access to and adequacy of training for volunteers, endorses a push towards more paid staff firefighters simply to add to union membership and is a departure from the Volunteer Charter, in which Government and CFA agreed to involve volunteers in any decision which affects them.

The Volunteer Charter was signed the Premier, Police and Emergency Services Minister and CFA Chairman in October 2008 to much fanfare.

VFBV wrote to the CFA, Minister and Premier in February 2010, listing 12 points of concern with the enterprise bargaining negotiations that were then under way, but volunteers were still excluded from having their voice heard.

CFA’s vast volunteer fire fighting resource has proven itself to be both professional and irreplaceable.

VFBV stresses that if the state is to retain that protection, there must be greater priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity, not just in numbers but in levels of training and equipment of brigades.

The CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement is a setback for that vital community resource.

The briefing to MPs was based on the following expert analysis of how the CFA’s industrial agreement affects volunteers.


Summary: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

The Agreement is larger in size (running to over 240 pages) than its predecessors and is a complex document spelling out not simply traditional industrial matters such as pay, expenses, leave and career structure but also seeks to regulate aspects of CFA operations and management that govern its own members, other staff and volunteers.

The common law Deed of Agreement between CFA and the UFU which is the companion agreement to the Enterprise Agreement has not been seen by VFBV – we have requested a copy but it has not as yet been received. We therefore do not know as yet the full impact of the industrial arrangements between the CFA, Government and UFU.

Consequently, this analysis is based on the Enterprise Agreement only.

After the CFA and the Government had agreed to the new arrangements with the UFU, the Minister advised in a meeting with VFBV representatives that an impact analysis of the arrangements on volunteers was available from the CFA. In a subsequent meeting between the Boards of CFA and VFBV we were advised that such an analysis had not been done. CFA CEO Mick Bourke is now preparing such an assessment and it should be available soon.

The following summary points represent our conclusions on the Agreement we have been provided.

Following these points is a more detailed analysis of the Agreement against the 12 issues we submitted to the CFA and Government in February this year concerning matters which were to be negotiated between CFA, Government and the UFU.

In Summary, we would make the following general points:

  1. There is no commitment or acknowledgement that CFA is a volunteer based organisation despite the fact that over 97% of the CFA workforce is volunteer. In fact, apart from a number of references to volunteers being in various fashions regulated by the terms of the Agreement, it is more like an MFB style agreement which of course is designed for an all-paid workforce organisation.

  2. It establishes a regime and processes for determining a host of matters that impact volunteers but excludes volunteers/VFBV from participating in those processes. The clauses and schedules dealing with training are a significant example of this.

  3. Directly impacts CFA’s capacity to provide support to volunteer brigades. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” stops any future permanent allocation of day manning to support brigades. From here on, new day manning can only be used as a short interim step to full 24/7 manning.

  4. Restricts CFA’s capacity to meet its obligations. For example, it limits who can provide community education and Clauses 13 & 15 institute a regime where urgently needed actions or initiatives can be subject to very lengthy delays unless the UFU agree to such actions.

  5. This is an expensive agreement and the allocation of 342 new paid firefighters (nearly a 60% increase in paid operations staff) will add greatly to CFA’s total costs. It is unclear as to whether these addition costs will be fully met from new Government approved funding or whether savings in other areas of CFA budget will have to be made. If the latter, there are obviously concerns for volunteers and the effects it will have on volunteer support.

  6. VFBV supports genuine and informed consultation by CFA with volunteers and its paid workforce and it is right and proper that these rights are guaranteed by binding documents. However, this Agreement between CFA and UFU goes well beyond consultation and perpetuates the growth in UFU dominance in CFA management matters and attempts to exclude volunteer input and influence on matters affecting volunteers. This is best exemplified by Clause 6.2 of the Agreement which says:


6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

Terms and conditions within the Agreement include matters directly affecting volunteers be it training matters, day shift manning support needs or support from CSF type staff.

This summary is based on the following detailed analysis.


Detailed Assessment: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

In its letter(s) to the Chairman and CEO on this matter VFBV made the following over-arching points:

  • VFBV remains committed to a volunteer based CFA organised on the current integrated model of volunteers and paid staff.

  • Reiterated VFBV’s very strong view that for this model to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Victoria there must be greater organisational priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity across the state.

  • That this included ensuring that there are no industrial barriers or restrictions to achieving this aim.

  • VFBV also stated their belief that any relevant industrial agreements and paid staff position descriptions should recognise and acknowledge the community based volunteer nature and organisation of CFA.

  • VFBV specifically highlighted the fact they do not seek to in any manner interfere in the lawful negotiations between CFA and any union on matters pertaining to the employee-employer relationship under the relevant industrial relations legislation where such matters do not impinge on legitimate volunteer interests.

[Note: Letters were sent to the Premier and Minister on 26 February noting VFBV concerns about the impact on volunteers by and arising from sections of UFU industrial agreements. This correspondence included a copy of our letter to the CFA detailing our over-arching concerns and the 12 points of our submission (listed below). Despite persistent follow-up by VFBV with the Premier, Minister and CFA, there was no consultation/discussion with VFBV or written response on these issues prior to the CFA concluding and Government agreeing to the new industrial arrangements with the UFU in late August 2010.]

In the letter to CFA, VFBV made the following submission regarding the CFA-UFU Operational Staff Agreement:

1) Scope of Agreement: Limit any inappropriate scope of agreement by including introductory clause: ‘Nothing in this agreement will limit or prevent in anyway whatsoever the recruitment, training, deployment, utilization and activities of CFA Volunteers and other emergency volunteers by the CFA in meeting its statutory duties and obligations.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. Over 97% of the CFA workforce is made up of volunteers. Paid operations staff comprises less than 1% of CFA workforce and yet they are increasingly a dominant force over CFA management. This clause would have provided clear and unambiguous protection of volunteers and volunteerism in the CFA from industrial interference as both a matter of principle and law. Our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

2) Objectives of Agreement: In the Objectives clause of agreement add the following words to the first sentence: ‘including the maintenance and growth of CFA volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. It would be appropriate that a key paid staff industrial agreement not only recognised this fact and was clear that a principal role of paid staff was to optimise volunteer and community capacity. Again, our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

It is worth noting that under the Application of Agreement, Clause 6, there is a curious new clause:

6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

The wording is such that it would be used to prevent volunteers/VFBV making successful representations on those matters which impact volunteers either in the Enterprise Agreement or flowing from it (whether intended or not).

3) Position Descriptions: That position descriptions attached to the Agreement be suitably amended so that the section detailing ‘Primary Purpose of Position’ incorporates the following or similar words: ‘Assist and support the maintenance and growth of CFA Volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies’. That ‘Key Result Areas’ of those position descriptions be amended by the insertion of the following words or similar: ‘Contribute to and support the growth of CFA volunteerism and ongoing development of CFA volunteer personnel for operational and organisational performance’.

RESULT: Position Descriptions for Operations Officer and Operations Manager are contained in Schedule 11 of the Enterprise Agreement. PDs for other positions are not detailed and assumed to be the same as current. There is no commitment in any PDs in ‘Primary Purpose/Objectives of Position’ or ‘Key Result Areas’ to anything even remotely similar to the words/sentiment requested. This omission means there is no stated obligation or work focus for paid staff to support the most fundamental of CFA objectives – supporting and growing CFA Volunteerism. The inclusion of such a key organisational objective is usually standard in position descriptions.

4) Remove any impediments to Volunteer Training and improve Volunteer access to training: Noting that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of volunteer training and the need for flexible training arrangements to meet volunteer needs and circumstances, remove any clauses or provisions which act as impediments to effectively meeting volunteer training requirements including limits on the use of appropriately qualified paid sessional instructors.

RESULT: At first reading there appears to be a slight improvement in CFA’s ability to access non-employee paid trainers (including sessional instructors) when paid instructors and qualified operations staff are not available to meet volunteer training needs. However, the actual process for engaging and using non-employee paid sessional instructors seems complex and difficult to practically implement.

The relevant clause in the Enterprise Agreement (99.2.2) provides that:

a) The relevant session must be indentified in advance as part of the current training syllabus or assessment syllabus;

b) The indentified instructor is absent through sickness or other unavoidable cause;

c) It can be demonstrated that the session is of an urgent nature and must take place;

d) Other career instructors, Leading Firefighters, Station Officers, Operations Officers or volunteers (unpaid) within a 100km radius cannot deliver that urgent session and it cannot be rescheduled;

e) Then CFA can source appropriate (non-employee paid) instructors to deliver that session.

These lengthy and seemingly rigid procedures appear to effectively continue the limits on the use of non-employee paid sessional trainers previously imposed by the UFU and thereby limit CFA’s capacity to flexibly meet volunteer training support requirements. This has been a long standing concern of volunteers which we sought to have addressed in our submission to CFA and Government. We will query CFA on the process they intend to use in meeting these Enterprise Agreement procedures so as to ensure volunteer training needs are met, including volunteer friendly timetabling and location needs.

An area of further concern is the apparent restrictions on PAD instructor working hours and the consequences for after hours volunteer training. The cost implications for CFA in meeting these requirements may be a significant disincentive for CFA to schedule after hours training for volunteers.

More generally, training arrangements are regulated by:

a) Clause 26 (Contracting Out/Maintenance of Classifications) requiring that training must be delivered first and foremost by any ‘employees in the classifications in the agreement directly employed by CFA’ except volunteers providing services as volunteers without remuneration;

b) Clause 93 (Improved Skills Enhancement and Training Delivery Arrangements) which provides for “The joint consultative process to review a broad range of training and development related matters will continue”. Specific matters for this CFA-UFU consultative arrangement includes “Processes to enable career personnel to provide competency based training and assessment for volunteers”. There is no role for volunteers/VFBV to be part of this consultation process;

c) Schedule 5 “Training Framework” appears binding on volunteers despite the fact that there has been no discussion or consultation with volunteers/VFBV. Clause 93.2 specifies that the parties (UFU & CFA) will revise this schedule within the first 6 months of the Enterprise Agreement. Again, there is no role for volunteers /VFBV in this stated process; and,

d) Schedule 6 “Joint Statement on Operational Training and Assessment” by CFA/UFU, states that all firefighters (career or volunteer) must have the competencies and skills to undertake the tasks required of them and that the operational training standards must be consistent across the CFA. The competencies, skills and training standards are imposed under the processes spelt out in the Enterprise Agreement. Under the heading ‘Training Delivery’ in schedule 6 (second dot point) it states: “Where paid operational training is delivered outside the AFC based Framework such training must be delivered and assessed by a process agreed by the parties” (ie. CFA and UFU). The effect of this is to give UFU further control over training.

The appointment of instructors continues to be industrially regulated and limited by Clause 99 ‘Terms and Conditions of Employment for Instructors’. Under this clause the UFU continue to have a dominant role in determining the eligibility of candidates for instructor positions, the criteria for selecting appointees as well as membership of Instructor Interview Panels. Despite the fact that training is a fundamentally important issue for volunteers we have no representation in consulting or participating in these matters. Clause 6.2 (set out above) seems to make it a breach of the Enterprise Agreement if we were to be so engaged.

5) Enable lateral entry/secondment of suitably qualified candidates to any level of rank or role within CFA without industrial impediment: To maximize CFA effectiveness in and through local communities remove impediments to lateral entry/secondment for qualified volunteers and other qualified people into any level of rank or role within CFA for which the CFA determines they are competent; that relevant volunteer experience and qualifications and recognition of prior learning based on experience be part of any relevant CFA qualification assessment regarding lateral entry.

RESULT: In a nutshell, restrictions on secondment and lateral entry remain rather than being a matter for CFA management selecting best available candidate for a position.

Clause 28 “Secondment and Lateral Entry” sets out the regulation of and procedures for secondment or lateral entry to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above. Secondment/lateral entry to positions below Leading Firefighter is prevented by the Enterprise Agreement.

Under the Clause, CFA firefighters shall be given priority for secondments and appointments/promotions to vacancies.

In the event there is a need to second to a long term vacant position (for up to 2 years) and there is no (suitable) candidate available within CFA paid firefighting staff, secondees can be secured externally provided they are an operational firefighting employee of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand. They must also hold the same or equivalent rank as that of the position to which they are seconded. Qualified and experienced volunteers and firefighters from private industry are ineligible for secondment.

Where permitted by the Enterprise Agreement, lateral entry to a position can only occur where the position has been advertised at least twice internally in CFA to operational firefighters. If there is no suitable applicant, CFA shall second someone to the position under the secondment rules (above). If there is still a vacancy at the end of any secondment period, the position has to be advertised internally once more. If there is no internal applicant, the secondee can be offered the position. If the secondee refuses the position (or in the case there was no secondment was secured) only then may the CFA seek external applications.

The actual lateral entry rules set out in the Enterprise Agreement are that:

a) Lateral entry is restricted to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above;

b) Applications can only be received from operational firefighting employees of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand;

c) Any applicant must hold the same or equivalent rank as the position advertised;

d) The successful applicant will undertake a short course on CFA specific requirements and relevant skills.

Qualified and experienced volunteers are prevented from being laterally appointed to operational positions in CFA under these limitations. Operational firefighters from private firefighting services are also excluded. Even operational employees of recognised fire services are excluded if their application represents a promotion for them.

Sub Clause 99.1.2 of the Enterprise Agreement regulates the appointment, promotion or transfer of instructors “who is or was an external applicant or external appointee” to any other classification or position referred to in or covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

In full this sub clause reads:

“An instructor who is or was an external applicant or external appointee may not be appointed, promoted or transferred, and the CFA will not appoint, promote or transfer an external applicants or external appointee, to any classification or position referred to in or covered by the Agreement other than in accordance with this clause”.

Sub Clause 99.7.7 limits the lateral movement of such instructors into operational roles solely to those agreed with the UFU.

Clause 122 of the Agreement regulates lateral entry to positions of Operations Officer and Operations Manager. The provisions of this Clause require that;

a) the CFA has to demonstrate that no suitably qualified internal applicant exists;

b) the position must be advertised internally on two occasions;

c) only then proceed to either appoint an internal person who does not meet all of the requirements for appointment, or lateral entry of an external candidate.

d) If lateral entry is the selected option there is to be consultation and agreement between the parties to determine a competency based lateral entry process. If the parties cannot agree on this process then it shall be determined by Fair Work Australia (FWA). Such FWA determination shall only be effective for the life of the Bargaining Agreement.

6) Remove any impediment or limit to the provision of support to volunteers by appropriately qualified or designated paid staff: Recognising that the classification of Brigade Administrative Support Officers (BASOs) was specifically created and funded to provide administrative and organisational support for volunteer brigades, that the classification and functioning of BASOs and any similar classification be removed from the Operational Staff Agreement. Further such Operational Staff Agreement should not hinder, limit or otherwise impact on the role and function of BASOs in the provision of administrative and organisational support for volunteers. In addition to removing this matter from the operation of the subject Agreement, VFBV also submits that CFA explicitly undertake to ensure that the BASO classification is maintained and their number is expanded to enhance support for volunteers. Further, VFBV submits that CFA needs to consider deployment of other resources engaged specifically to proactively build community and volunteer capacity.

RESULT: The Enterprise Agreement contains no clause dealing with BASO or brigade support issues (excepting CSFs – see below).

Sub Clause 26.1 could be applied to limit or exclude brigade support duties performed by non-firefighters where the duties performed are also part of the prescribed duties/work of firefighters (stated as ‘classifications covered by the Agreement’). This was the UFU’s position in negotiations for the 2000 EBA, hence the reference to BASOs in the 2000 and 2002 Operative Staff EBAs.

The application of Point 1 above ran in tandem with this proposal to delete any reference to BASOs. We understand that the regulation of BASOs and other Brigade support matters may be covered by a Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU the full text of which has not been seen.

The Bargaining Agreement still prohibits CFA from appointing Community Support Facilitators and similar classifications and positions in Clause 70.

7) Selection and deployment of suitable vehicles and equipment within CFA be determined in a timely manner according to operational requirements determined by CFA management after proper consultation with relevant paid staff and volunteers. Any express or implied limits under the Agreement on the provision and suitable deployment of vehicles and equipment lawfully declared fit for use by CFA be removed. This should not in any way negate requirements for timely and genuine consultation (but not veto) by CFA with volunteers and paid staff over operational and equipment issues including standards and deployment of such equipment. Real safety issues regarding vehicles and equipment should be strictly dealt with under relevant occupational health and safety laws and not under an industrial agreement.

RESULT: Clause 92 of the Enterprise Agreement “New Appliances and Equipment” simply provides that “The CFA will use its best endeavours to develop within the first 6 months of this agreement guidelines for the design and specifications of appliances and equipment to be used in any station”.

There seems to be an inference that the CFA and UFU already have a separate agreement on such matters applying up until now and which is to be reviewed for application in the near future but there are no statements to that effect.

In the absence of any exclusion clause, matters related to “design and specification of appliances and equipment” could be argued as matters under Clause 14 “Introduction of Change” and therefore subject to the Agreement’s “Consultative Processes” contained in Clause 13. It could also be a matter for inclusion under the “CFA / UFU Consultative Committee” established under Clause 13.2 for which the terms of reference, membership and working arrangements are yet to be negotiated by the parties. The Bargaining Agreement says they will agree on these matters within six months of the Agreement being lodged with FWA.

In any case, it is a matter that can be made subject to Clause 15 “Dispute Resolution” where change, including introduction of new appliances and equipment, can be significantly delayed because no change can occur during the dispute resolution process which extends through a series of internal procedural steps, then to Fair Work Australia and, seemingly, then to appeals that may be pursued by the UFU from any FWA decision adverse to its interests or position.

Such a matter may also be dealt under Clause 16 ‘Consultation “Officer & Disputes Regarding Consultation and Change” which, if there is not agreement, leads back to Clause 15 the dispute resolution clause. In many ways, these arrangements could be said to be a pocket veto for the UFU – one they have used in the past under similar arrangements as part of negotiations on matters both related and unrelated to a subject dispute.

This matter requires clarification and advice from CFA.

8) Remove any limit or constraint on CFA’s employment and use of appropriately qualified non firefighter community education and related support staff: Whilst noting the important role that all classifications of existing operations staff should play in community education and that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of community education, that there be no limit or constraint placed on CFA in the agreement as to the employment and deployment of community education and support officers to support and supplement volunteers carrying out community education functions as deemed necessary.

RESULT: Under the Bargaining Agreement CFA is limited and constrained in the delivery of community education on fire prevention and awareness.

Clause 71 of the Agreement “Community Education” states that the deliverers of community education on fire prevention and awareness will be career Firefighters/Station Officers and only when they are not available volunteer Firefighters/Officers.

No other classification or employee is allowed to undertake community education duties.

This Clause differentiates between community education as described above and the delivery of special community information campaigns that do not have an educational (ie training) component.

In light of the Bushfires Royal Commission it is surprising that this limitation is included in the Agreement.

9) Consultation arrangements with paid staff not to include effective veto over change or unduly delay needed changes and initiatives: Whilst supporting the need for an effective and genuine consultation and dispute resolution system such a system must not incorporate an effective veto right nor unduly delay change and initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

RESULT: As discussed above in regard to new appliances and equipment, Clauses 13 and 15 of the Agreement enable the UFU to delay for at least a significant period of time any change or initiative by procedural means. In other words, they maintain their effective veto over needed timely change or initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

10) Definition of employment matters under the Agreement: Explicitly, the definition of employment matters in the Operational Staff Agreement must not enable, or purport to enable, any provisions of the Agreement to constrain or limit the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA. A statement in the Agreement making this clear would be appropriate. The Agreement should be limited to core employee entitlement issues such as salaries, wages, allowances, leave entitlements and promotional opportunities. It should not seek to impact on the operational management or organisation of the CFA specified by relevant Victorian legislation.

RESULT: The reference to the ‘Definition of Employment’ as appeared in early negotiation drafts of the Agreement was excluded from the final Agreement. There is no statement or clause in the Agreement that covers this matter.

Consequently, the Enterprise Agreement’s provisions purport to be absolute and unrestricted by the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA established by Victorian Legislation (the CFA Act). In effect, this means that where there is a conflict between what’s in the Agreement (or what it authorises) registered under Federal industrial law and the powers, duties and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA created under Victorian law, it is a matter of constitutional legal interpretation and litigation, unless one side backs down.

As noted in this document (and there are other examples) there are a number of clauses which impact on operational management and organisation of the CFA so the constitutional legal issues are matters of consequence in the application of this Agreement in the CFA. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” purports to restrict the Chief Officer and the CFA’s capacity to make staffing decisions based on operational need. A fuller discussion of Clause 80 is set out below under Point 12.

Clause 6 of the Agreement “Application of Agreement” it clearly states that the Agreement applies to and covers “all employees engaged in or performing work that is or may be performed by an employee engaged in a classification or occupation referred to in this agreement”. This is a very broad clause which when read literally means that the UFU can apply its rights and powers under the Agreement to in effect regulate the work done by non-UFU employees of CFA where there they perform work that can be characterised as the same as, similar to or could be done by classifications under the Agreement.

Under Clause 68, “Career Paths and Opportunities” Sub Clause 68.1 provides that the Enterprise Bargaining Implementation Committee (EBIC) will review in the first 12 months of the Agreement CFA’s recruitment and selection panel procedures. The resulting report will be tabled for consultation and therefore it is subject to disputes procedure if there is no agreement. In this case, FWA will be the determining body of CFA’s recruit and selection panel procedures.

11) Chief Officer and CFA must not be constrained or limited in the performance of their statutory duties by industrial agreements: Remove any purported limitation or constraint on the Chief Officer and CFA carrying out their express or implied statutory duty to review and determine all brigade, appliance and fireground staffing levels and requirements to meet CFA community service and safety obligations including the redeployment of paid staff positions to other locations as may be required (subject to suitable transfer allowances and arrangements which are an employment matter).

RESULT: Previous EBA clauses covering Board of Reference on staffing, the criteria for staffing review and new brigade staffing have been removed from this Agreement. The fate of the more powerful 2008 staffing ‘Disputes Panel’ (ie, the Merriman Disputes panel also known as the Board of Reference) set up under a separate Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU is unknown.

Clause 27 of the Agreement, “Safe Staffing Levels” sets down for the first time in CFA the concept of a minimum number of paid staff on shift designated at the current level of 99. The location and rank of said staff is set down in Schedule 1 to the Agreement as is the number and rank of employees allocated to other (non-shift) positions. As the parties reach agreement on new staffing levels during the period of the Enterprise Agreement, both Clause 27 and Schedule 1 can be updated by mutual agreement making any new numbers on shift and their deployment fixed in law as new minimums.

Sub Clause 27.3 anticipates state government allocation of new firefighter positions to the CFA arising from the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) under the 2008 industrial arrangements and the Bushfires Royal Commission.

There is a sentence in the sub clause that says “In particular, the parties note that the Commission’s final report makes reference at 10.6.2, to the need to increase the number of career fire fighters and integrated stations”. This seems to present that the Royal Commission made additional paid staffing a recommendation when such was not the case.

In fact, the Commission simply noted in its summary the evidence of the CFA that it intended to increase the number of urban integrated stations from 31 to 38 by 2020 and the evidence of the UFU witness (Mr Thomas) regarding the 2009 Board of Reference (Disputes Panel). The recommendations of the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) which rejected the views and submissions of the CFA Chief Officer is of course subject to serious dispute by VFBV.

Nevertheless, Sub Clause 27.3 is the disguise under which the Government appears to have done an industrial “fix” to avoid political/industrial conflict with the UFU going in to the Victorian election by announcing that an additional 342 paid firefighters for the CFA had been approved under a four year funding package.

It is noteworthy to recall that CFA’s official submission to the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) was that they may need up to 232 additional firefighters/officers by 2020. The Union’s position apparently totalled 684. It seems CFA, in conjunction with elements of Government, ended up making application to Government for the funding of significantly more paid firefighters than it had originally concluded may be needed by 2020.

It seems the “fix” is half what the UFU was seeking to be delivered by 2014/15 in half the time horizon submitted by the CFA. What will happen in the five years thereafter has been left for the next government, or possibly the one after that.

It is unclear exactly when or how these new paid firefighters will be recruited, trained and deployed.

There has been no consultation with VFBV on this matter despite the impact it will have on volunteers in integrated brigades and volunteer brigades to which CFA may seek to allocate 24/7 paid staff.

12) New classification of dedicated day shift firefighters: Recognising that some brigades need temporary and flexible support from paid operations staff from time to time, e.g. seasonal, day shift weekdays, to deal with temporary volunteer availability or during periods of brigade rebuilding, that a day shift fire fighter classification be created to provide such flexible as required support to brigades.

RESULT: There is no day shift classification created as requested. In fact, Clause 80 of the Agreement, “Day Staffing” kills the ability to deploy permanent day shift firefighters to volunteer brigades under the continuum.

From here on in, day shift staffing can only remain at brigades so specified in the Bargaining Agreement (that is, current arrangements noted in Schedule 1) and as an interim step to 10/14 roster staffing regardless of actual need. To implement even this step, the parties (CFA and UFU) must agree in writing to the timetable for achieving 24/7 shift manning. Thus the UFU again has veto power on new staffing of brigades – the dates / timetable covering interim day manning and progression to 10/14 shifts regardless of need. This kills a major feature of the continuum, that is to make staff support decisions based on brigade needs assessment and recognise that most brigades needing staff support only require it weekdays.

A review of existing day shift arrangements may also be provided for under the new Deed of Agreement but we are awaiting advice on this.

Volunteers Reaction

In recent months, we have been flooded with volunteers’ emails and letters. Below is a small sample. Typical subjects include CFA’s recent union deal, budget cuts and the funding of 342 additional paid firefighters while volunteers face rationing of training and equipment.

If you would like to add your comment, please use the Submit Comment/Feedback button above. Names are always removed to protect your privacy.

The response to the Age re: the Welfare Fund (see Letter to the Editor – VFBV Welfare Fund on VFBV’s Media Releases page) was very well done. Concise, accurate and delivered a positive tone regarding this issue. The author should be congratulated unlike the Age employees responsible for the original article which was an appalling example of journalism. As a long time Age reader I am dismayed at the editorial standards that allow such a poor standard of reporting space on the pages of a once respected broadsheet.
Volunteer, District 23

One question I would like a answer to is we have four members from vfbv on the board,I beleive that the Eba was signed off by all board members.Why did OUR reps from VFBV sign the EBA with out speaking to the vols first. Also I have read on connect that their are still ten points the VFVB would like to know about why cant OUR board members get us a copy of these.I will be at the special meeting the VFBV has called and I will ask this question.
Volunteer, District 13

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "i'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up". There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed. I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty. So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Having read all the current comments, I can only agree, IT IS TIME TO TAKE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!! Until recently I thought I was one of a few who has seen the writing on the wall. Now it seems we are all in agreement. Let's stop 'pussy footing' around and agree at the rally to; Refuse to fill or phone in FIRS reports, DO NOT book 'In Station' after a job (a tactic used by MFB UFU members in the 1990's). Inundate District HQ's with trivial requests as well as O.H.& S. requests, and any other administrative trivial matters. We can still protect our communities and communicate with each other via radio / mobile phone etc. That's why we have Groups. Let's use the UFU's tactics, it works for them. Without we VOLUNTEERS CFA is NOTHING. 
Volunteer, District 14

My question and more so suggestion does not relate to the usual Vol/career staff discussion but is more to do with the way volunteer elections are held. How many brigades members out there disagree with the fact that non operational members have the ability to vote on operational roles. A large proportion of our brigade are part of the running team and play no part in the day to day operation of the brigade, and not one of them attends fire training or calls. So why is it then that they can vote on Lt's that control the members at fires??? With the exception of one of our brigades officers none of the others are respected, nor are they wanted in those positions, but as the non operational members have the power of the vote, they get in. This is certainly not something that is just an issue in my brigade, from speaking to other vols it’s an issue state wide.. once this is sorted we may have people in control of brigades that have the willingness to get in peoples faces and say enough is enough.. and get the treatment we deserve, instead of the "Yes Men" that so many brigades seem to be controlled by... I am certainly one of many that has had enough and is very close to resigning from the CFA after nearly 20 years... 
Volunteer, District 2

I'm amazed at the length of things that happen under the table in CFA looking after the career staff who make up a pittance of the CFA organisation. Our brigade has voted to not put up with this and fight. I encouige all brigades, districts or regons to become aware and active in rasing awairness of the conditions that the EBA will impose on Volinteers. 
Volunteer, District 14

If I may offer a suggestion :
Draft up a sample letter provide that sample letter to every brigade Captain and if possible every CFA firefighter, with a list of the names and addresses of every State politician upper and Lower House and request the brigade members to write/copy and send the letter to their two local politicians (upper and lower house) the letter should demand that they each make representation on our behalf to change the obnoxious clauses (Or Make CFA keep their word to the volunteer organisation). The threat being that if they do not do so within a week or so then we will be asking our brigade members to vote at the State Election on 27 Nov against the encumbent upper and lower house members.

Given the election is only a few weeks away you should move quickly but it can be done.

Immediately after tghe election a similar campaign at the federal level should be commencesd as well as targetting newly elected State MPs . One letter from the president will not win the day 1,000 letters from CFA voters all over the state will!
Volunteer, District 15

As a Volunteer, I'm really interested to see everyone banging on about the Volunteer Charter and how it should become law. Well before we go down this road perhaps we should get our own yard in order one of the principles of the charter for Volunteers to do is to treat CFA employees with a mutual, respectful and active partnership. Well given some of the comments I have seen written by fellow Volunteer members one inparticular referring to career firefighters as cancers is not going to help us.

Is our fight with individual or all the career firefighters or is it with CFA. I think the VFBV Executive needs to lift their game and ensure that we do not get in to a them and us battle with the career firefighters otherwise guess who is going to suffer. The community, thats who.

We need to all remember why we joined the CFA, it was for the community.

I am a very disallusioned volunteer especially when I see personal attacks agains fellow firefighters.
Volunteer, District 22

It appears easy for the party in opposition to make wide-ranging promises which are easily cast aside once that party gains power. Unfortunately as volunteers and voters we have become immune to promises made due to a road that has become littered with many shattered promises made in the heat of the moment driven by the possibility of gaining votes and therefore, power.

With a volunteer base numbering approx 58,000 potential voters, then add partners, family, friends of all volunteers, we could become a very powerful political force which would command respect from those in government.

So the question begs asking - why don't we! Most volunteers join purely to be able to help out their immediate and all communities in times of emergency. Becomming a CFA volunteer is not a politically driven decision - this is the furthest thing on our minds.

It is therefore disheartening to see so many disillusioned volunteers who believe that their basic volunteer needs are now being discarded along that road with the shattered promises without so much as the opportunity to make comment or have meaningful input.

So, why should we believe the opposition when they promise support for the volunteers by way of law and finance - is this all another charade to use volunteers as pawns in their power play?

As for our Association - where are you? Everyone easily recognises the UFU leader - would we so easily recognise our Association leader?

Yes, we will still continue to attend to emergencies, fundraise within our own communities for much needed equipment and 'make do' in relation to communications/training/protective clothing.

WHY - BECAUSE WE ARE VOLUNTEERS AND PROUD TO BE - HELP US CONTINUE TO BE SO PROUD!!!
Volunteer, District 8

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "I'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up".
There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed.
I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty.
So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Why have the Volunteers not had a rally.? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA.
Volunteer, District 14

I get the feeling this is really starting to get to a lot of people … time to start taking our own action I reckon!!

When the regions feel pressure from us it will push to HQ. Try some UFU tactics I reckon, no fire reports, no protected premises sheets, call the RDO to pick up dirty hose … anything that does not actually affect service to the community should be considered in my opinion.
Volunteer, District 7

I would like to thank the VFBV for working so hard against these incompetents who are paid CFA personnel and executive. We appreciate you correcting the words they print and we know they are wrong!!! WE are very grateful for standing up for the volunteers and we all know without them Victoria would BURN!!
Volunteer, Region 24

The EBA is the biggest joke around, you guys really need to read some of the clauses in it, if this was private industry we would be out of business.
Volunteer, District 8

What can I as a volunteer do about it? Who do I need to hassle?
Volunteer, District 14

Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free.

There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard.
Volunteer, District 23

We need to have our say VFBV arrange a rally asap. The CFA has stations falling down around the vols but we can pay STAFF 1 Hours pay to pick up a phone for overtime it’s ****ed. HELP US VFBV
Volunteer, District 8

Why is it that OH&S only applies to staff members , the Pumper Tanker that was due to arrive at my station was left to rust away at the DMO's according to my OO , so to overcome this problem by stelth it was delivered to the station next door...no discussion with my brigades BMT , of course the rumour file was well ahead of the vehicle and now all sorts of backside covering is taking place to try and assure disgruntled members.....UFU members state that the VDC had not signed off on the locker configeration...so it's now an OH&S issue.....no Pumper Tankers in Intergrated Brigades.....so members outside these arrangements can use the vehicle....Please Explain?

Bad enough the OO tried to pull the wool over our eyes , but what use is the Volunteer Charter or an other agreement if the UFU can become the umpire on all matters , move away from agreements and Brigade planning to flex there muscle...what are we suposed to be classed as second class in our own Station......time to fight for our rights , if The Volunteer Charter is the document that we look to for guidance ,it needs to be empowered and embraced by the people that signed it......a peice of paper is just that unless it has some worth . I am yet to be convinced that it is more that just chest thumping.
Website Comment

Ladies and Gents Its time for all Volunteers to take a leaf out of the UFU's book and stand together and tell the CFA and the UFU and its members that we are not going to be treated like this, we are not going to put up with second class conditions and training, The next Thing before we know it it will be total segregation Vols to the Back staff to the front "No Vols Here" What does all this sound like ?

I urge every volunteer member to rally against the CFA and THe UFU I ask that the VFBV arranges a rally so that we can all tell the CFA the UFU and the State Govt That we are not going to sit by and let all our rights be washed down the toilet

Everyone who reads this should request the the VFBV arranges a rally asap.
Volunteer, District Withheld

Volunteer disrespect.

Enough is enough! - the real issue here is not being unfairly disadvantaged because we choose to volunteer. Volunteers are proud of what we do and are willing to contribute but NOT at the expense of our rights and dignity. As a volunteer I do not want to dictate staff wages and conditions, I hope all staff get a proper wage and the best conditions they can - they deserve this and better and I don't care if they are members of the UFU, this is not the issue, it is only clouding the truth - The issue is that the Volunteer charter has been ignored by Government and CFA and volunteers rights have been eroded to being "unincluded third parties". (sic Mick Burke CFA CEO).

We are well under resourced, have insufficient tools to do the job and are not supported in many cases. We are not consulted on things which have a direct impact on us untill after the event, if at all, and even then it is a condescending and patronisingly feeble attempt to get back in our favour. Come on Government and CFA, include us in matters which impact on us before you write policy, employ more firefighters or spend money. The Bushfire Royal Commission missed one key element - it made no recommendations to improve the volunteer capacity or spirit. It recognised the importance of volunteers but took us for granted assuming we would always be around - again the indemic ignorance of volunteers even at the BRC level.
A simple ask, Please put something in place by including us in the discussions to ensure our rights are protected and enforced and then you will see the numbers of volunteers grow and you won't need as many career people to fill the gap created by discregard, complacency and disrespect.
Volunteer, District 4

The CFA needs to man up if all the volunteers walk out then what would thay do . Its all about the STAFF STAFF and UFU what about the vols stand up for what is right CFA.
Volunteer, District 8

Might i just say maybe the association has seemed to be just looking after running for to long and now it seems too late?The Union is strong and in front - it may be time for strong action
Volunteer, District 7

VFBV you need to stop sitting on the fence writing comments in face book and having Vols write comments in the Weekly Times ect. Arrange a rally NOW

We cant sit by any longer, I know of a brigade that had 50 Vols its now down to under 30 and the OIC (staff) is not allowing them to recruit GET OFF THE BLOODY FENCE LETS RALLY NOW.
Volunteer, District 14

Now is the time for all Volunteers to actively seek response from all candidates for the up coming state elections. and go with the candidate that will look after volunteers interests, and not their union mates.
Volunteer for 45 years, District 2

Great ! The poor Ambos get 100 staff who actually work full time and all night, but the CFA gets another 342 who sleep through the night !
Volunteer, District 8

A wise old fire fighter once said to me after returning home from a central council meeting at fiskville, the c.f.a is buggered - its board is rotting from the core out, i just laughed at him. He told me this 10 years ago, if he was alive today he would be laughing at me.
Volunteer, District 4

[Re the comment on SES taking the influx of disenchanted CFA volunteers]...The SES vols are even worse off - their board is stacked with Labor Party appointees with just ONE vol, and their association isn't represented at all.

I hope everyone here is prepared to step up and support VFBV - how many brigades don't even have a rep?
Volunteer, District 14

The CFA is letting all Volunteers down, with the way they have signed our rights away. We as Volunteers need to take action now. We all should write to our local member and ask what they are going to do for us after the next election if elected. We should also send Brumby a message that we are p\'d off and vote him out. 60000 votes against his party would send a clear message that he has let the volunteers down and we are not going to accept it.

We cant be the same as the UFU and take strike action or put bans in place because we all think to much of the communities where we live, if the shoe was on the other foot none of the brothers would hesitate to take action and put bans in place I urge all volunteers to make a stand.
Volunteer, District 14

I am a concerned volunteer at a urban intrigrated station. We have been told that the Pumper Tankers that were to be delivered to Intrigrated stations will not be coming due to the UFU and the pressure their members have put on the CFA. They say its because of OH&S issues, I know for a fact its because the CFA tried to take a stand against the UFU early on and build the trucks to suit all.

What gives the UFU the right to say the truck is no good for our members however give it to the Volunteer station down the road they will love it. IF there is OH&S concerns, the CFA and the UFU have a duty of care to all to explain the faults / issues and rectify said issues and then seed the units into the brigades that they were meant to go to.The ops teams at all these brigades did risk assessments and decided that the pumper tankers were the vehicles to suit their needs.

The CFA needs to take a stand against the UFU and fix the OH&S issues if that is the case or if there is no OH&S issues put the units into service at the brigades. Let them take action and lets get the media involved and show them that the UFU has only one concern its members and conditions not the COMMUNITY. The UFU members mostly dont live in the area where they work as such the care factor is low. Its time that the VFBV and the volunteers said enough is enough. CFA take control and put the UFU on notice that we are not going to stand for it any longer Let the staff go on strike. I would take time of work as would many other Vols to keep my community safe.
Volunteer, District 14

I'm disgusted at the way the EBA has been accepted. The CFA was a magnificent organisation of selfless, honourable people but from what I've seen over the last 5 years, the whole structure has begun to implode and will soon be unrecognisable. Brigade Captain, District 8

The CFA Board has seriously let the volunteers down. Lately it seems CFA and the government have been on a mission to put hurdles in the volunteers' way. CFA volunteers are sick of the hollow pats on the back from CFA/government after each major event. Volunteer, District 10

The current attitude of CFA and the Government makes a mockery of the Volunteer Charter. The introduction of the new Pumper Tanker into Integrated Brigades is being controlled by the UFU, CFA appears to be unable to make decisions based on operational needs rather than union/political influence. Volunteers in some Integrated Brigades are being treated like second class citizens and can't doing anything unless the staff agree to it whilst the staff appear to be able to do what they want and get what they want. Is it time we marched on Parliament House and handed back to the Government our copies of the Volunteer Charter? We need to do something sooner rather later.
Volunteer, District 14

Firstly I would like to say that this is real issue that must be dealt with a campaign that the union and the State Government will sit-up and take notice of. I would like to see the VFBV take the bull by the horns and take this issue all the way to the State Government, it was only last year that we saw again volunteers protecting people and those same volunteers need the training to help them protect themselves and the community that we live in today. I would like to say that I am a union member of the TWU and the UFU must protect their members but this goes against the Volunteer charter that the State Government signed.
Volunteer, District 14

Unfortunately the dogmatic UFU behind the scenes just sees Volunteers as "scabs" taking legitimate fire fighting work from career comrades, brothers and union members. Union members are OO, OM now under one EA, providing a closed career path only to entrenched union members influenced by the UFU doctrine, and managed via intense personal pressure from union officials. As you will often hear sorry we cannot do anything about it, since it is "the law" To break ranks you are now turning your back on ALL other union comrades in all issues affecting any aspect of the CFA. There is "strength in unity" but there is all so subservient pressure that can be used to unduly influence any decisions, hence the union officials hold a power position, in regards to any CFA decision. The prime goal of the union is to remove "scabs" and increase pay and conditions to members at any cost, especially when this goal can be veiled behind any other hidden agenda, that achieves the same outcome. The union is patient in in pursuit of power and influence, preferring stealth and legal trickery to slowly advance it's primary agenda. The volunteer charter is not "the law" and like the vital valued Victorian campaign, just a lip service pat on the back, similar to "yes you have been a good child, now go and play", leaving the decisions to the professionals. What ever happened to one CFA? It seemed the union didn't like that approach, the VFBV should be lobbying for the ONE CFA policy, with the actual integration of both volunteer and career staff, same training, same rank, same qualifications..... Volunteer, District Withheld

Here we see yet another under-handed dealing by the Government without consultation. Perhaps its just another sweetheart deal with a labour party supporter prior to the election. I hope the SES can handle the influx of volunteers as those within the CFA see their voice continually not being heard and even more money thrown at the higher levels of the bureaucracy, whilst the volunteers can\'t even get wet weather gear. The 60,000 volunteers in the CFA need to think long and hard about the forthcoming election. Ask your local candidates where they stand on volunteer support and the future funding of the CFA at volunteer level. Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr.Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free. There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard. Volunteer, District 23

It appears that it is about time that a rally is organised... When the UFU wants their way or wants to get there point across to the CFA, Government & the Community, they stage a rally! Why have the Volunteers not had a rally? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA. Many people I talk to believe that the UFU is also their for the Volunteers and that Volunteers are well looked after. We all know that this is not the case and maybe it's time that we did something about. I like many others are proud to be a Volunteer Firefighter, however over the past couple of years I have started to lose my dedication and respect for the CFA, and if it continues I will join the list of many others who are going to leave. VFBV does a great job working with the Volunteers. But maybe its time they started to get out to the stations more often and also start applying some Union like tactics before it is too late.
Volunteer, District 14

Some small stations don't even have a bloody dunny or for that matter water!
Website Comment

Without the volunteers the CFA is GONE!!! Start listening CFA . I strongly suggest the CFA involve the Volunteers & learn from all those experienced fire-fighters.Listen CFA - or you will have even less Volunteers support this season. We are sick of "change for change sake" stuff - Many of we older & experienced volunteers do not have the respect of the current CFA so how on earth are the newer volunteers going to accept the CFA's rotten attitude other than by walking out & leaving the permanent staff to keep on stuffing up what WAS a mighty organisation of times by. Wake up Mr. Brumby - you are not listening either. You are all talk & won't listen to we Volunteers either. The State of Victoria is at an all-time low in Volunteer morale & both the CFA & Government need to take a look at their own attitude to Volunteers & embrace these supportive people who give of their time so freely. Wake up & listen - for goodness sake!!!
Website Comment

You only have to look at the stuff up with the new structral turnout gear. We are being treated as a joke at CFA
Website Comment

Volunteers give up their evening and or days to train to better serve the community. They leave their families and friends to go to emergencies in their time. We need to give them more support.
Website Comment

I think [CFA] are serious and they believe they know what is best. It is understanding that we mean consult before deciding, they seem to be prepared to consult after the decision is taken.
Website Comment

In my time I have found CFA uses the charter after an incident to cover their positions.
Website Comment

I feel that CFA is more and more being controlled by the UFU. As a member of an integrated Brigade it appears the staff get what ever they want but no so the volunteers. The right of veto held by the UFU is very strong. Our Brigade has had a new Pumper/Tanker allocated (it is waiting at the DMO's) but it will not come to the Brigade until (if ever) the UFU gives it's approval and then they are trying to get Heavy Tankers allocated to all Integrated stations whether they need them or not.
Website Comment

It is clear from the manner and methods used regarding the Region boundary changes that the Board and the some parts of CFA don't give a toss about the vols. They only care about keeping in the good books with a shoddy government. Get rid of them all and hopefully a new Board will consult with the vols before commiting to important decisions. Ignoring the VFBV and the Vols concerns regarding the EB is just another example of their ignorance. When will it stop?
Website Comment

The CFA Board including the VFBV representatives on the board should be ashamed of the lack of consultation over the Boundary Alignment issue. No consultation was attempted until the CEO let the cat out of the bag with his blog. Absolutely shameful! They should hane their heads in shame.
Website Comment

Suggest CFA executive and others in the CFA policy decision structure, be given a test to assess their knowledge of the Charter. Results to be published. Website Comment

The Volunteer Charter obligations were not met from CFA in regards towards the initial consultation on Boundary Alignment. What consultation? when our CFA CEO blogged on CFA Connect!!
Website Comment

As an active Operational firefighter, I missed out on First Aid training due to lack of spaces. On WIN TV tonight, this issue was raised, stating that funding was needed to cover wages for the extra career firefighters being employed. This is alarming if our training is being sacrificed to meet union demands. I strongly support the claim made on the TV programme tonight, that all Operational volunteers should receive First Aid training. Personally, I would like to do First Aid training.
Volunteer, District 12

I would also take issue with the statement that pay and working conditions of paid firefighters is purely a matter between employer and employees. I believe all taxpayers, including volunteers, have the right to know where our tax dollars are going. The community needs to fully understand the cost of employing extra firefighters is not just in the generous pay and conditions but the cost of station modifications for sleeping quarters etc.
Volunteer, District 7

We're being shafted.
Volunteer, District 8

Friday, 01 March 2013 10:44

CFA/UFU EBA Agreement (2010)

Written by

CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

CFA’s newly signed industrial agreement significantly disadvantages CFA volunteers, and yet was concluded without consultation with the volunteers. The briefing below has gone to all Victorian State MPs.

Attn: Victorian State MPs - Thursday, 9 September 2010
CFA union deal a setback for volunteering

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) representing Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers is concerned that the CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement with the firefighters’ union is a major setback for Victoria’s volunteer fire fighting resource.

This industrial deal significantly disadvantages volunteers and was concluded without reference to them, departing from the CFA’s signed commitment to involving volunteers in decisions that affect them.

The industrial agreement goes beyond normal union matters such as pay and conditions, and seeks to regulate CFA operations and management of other staff and volunteers.

In making this deal, CFA has committed itself to processes and practices that should relate to the 1% of their workforce the agreement covers, yet inextricably impacts heavily on another 97% (the CFA volunteers) who have had no say and, it would seem, no rights.

The CFA’s deal with the union puts restrictions on volunteers by;

  • Controlling and restricting volunteer training arrangements
  • Including a clause designed to prevent volunteers making submissions on issues involving them
  • Preventing the use of paid firefighters on day shift allocation to support volunteer brigades, unless it is part of a progression to a 24 hour staffed fire station, whether the community needs it or not
  • Blocking experienced volunteers and other suitable industry candidates from entering paid employment with CFA in jobs they are qualified and experienced to do.

The industrial agreement represents another hurdle in the path for access to and adequacy of training for volunteers, endorses a push towards more paid staff firefighters simply to add to union membership and is a departure from the Volunteer Charter, in which Government and CFA agreed to involve volunteers in any decision which affects them.

The Volunteer Charter was signed the Premier, Police and Emergency Services Minister and CFA Chairman in October 2008 to much fanfare.

VFBV wrote to the CFA, Minister and Premier in February 2010, listing 12 points of concern with the enterprise bargaining negotiations that were then under way, but volunteers were still excluded from having their voice heard.

CFA’s vast volunteer fire fighting resource has proven itself to be both professional and irreplaceable.

VFBV stresses that if the state is to retain that protection, there must be greater priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity, not just in numbers but in levels of training and equipment of brigades.

The CFA’s newly signed enterprise bargaining agreement is a setback for that vital community resource.

The briefing to MPs was based on the following expert analysis of how the CFA’s industrial agreement affects volunteers.


Summary: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

The Agreement is larger in size (running to over 240 pages) than its predecessors and is a complex document spelling out not simply traditional industrial matters such as pay, expenses, leave and career structure but also seeks to regulate aspects of CFA operations and management that govern its own members, other staff and volunteers.

The common law Deed of Agreement between CFA and the UFU which is the companion agreement to the Enterprise Agreement has not been seen by VFBV – we have requested a copy but it has not as yet been received. We therefore do not know as yet the full impact of the industrial arrangements between the CFA, Government and UFU.

Consequently, this analysis is based on the Enterprise Agreement only.

After the CFA and the Government had agreed to the new arrangements with the UFU, the Minister advised in a meeting with VFBV representatives that an impact analysis of the arrangements on volunteers was available from the CFA. In a subsequent meeting between the Boards of CFA and VFBV we were advised that such an analysis had not been done. CFA CEO Mick Bourke is now preparing such an assessment and it should be available soon.

The following summary points represent our conclusions on the Agreement we have been provided.

Following these points is a more detailed analysis of the Agreement against the 12 issues we submitted to the CFA and Government in February this year concerning matters which were to be negotiated between CFA, Government and the UFU.

In Summary, we would make the following general points:

  1. There is no commitment or acknowledgement that CFA is a volunteer based organisation despite the fact that over 97% of the CFA workforce is volunteer. In fact, apart from a number of references to volunteers being in various fashions regulated by the terms of the Agreement, it is more like an MFB style agreement which of course is designed for an all-paid workforce organisation.

  2. It establishes a regime and processes for determining a host of matters that impact volunteers but excludes volunteers/VFBV from participating in those processes. The clauses and schedules dealing with training are a significant example of this.

  3. Directly impacts CFA’s capacity to provide support to volunteer brigades. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” stops any future permanent allocation of day manning to support brigades. From here on, new day manning can only be used as a short interim step to full 24/7 manning.

  4. Restricts CFA’s capacity to meet its obligations. For example, it limits who can provide community education and Clauses 13 & 15 institute a regime where urgently needed actions or initiatives can be subject to very lengthy delays unless the UFU agree to such actions.

  5. This is an expensive agreement and the allocation of 342 new paid firefighters (nearly a 60% increase in paid operations staff) will add greatly to CFA’s total costs. It is unclear as to whether these addition costs will be fully met from new Government approved funding or whether savings in other areas of CFA budget will have to be made. If the latter, there are obviously concerns for volunteers and the effects it will have on volunteer support.

  6. VFBV supports genuine and informed consultation by CFA with volunteers and its paid workforce and it is right and proper that these rights are guaranteed by binding documents. However, this Agreement between CFA and UFU goes well beyond consultation and perpetuates the growth in UFU dominance in CFA management matters and attempts to exclude volunteer input and influence on matters affecting volunteers. This is best exemplified by Clause 6.2 of the Agreement which says:


6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

Terms and conditions within the Agreement include matters directly affecting volunteers be it training matters, day shift manning support needs or support from CSF type staff.

This summary is based on the following detailed analysis.


Detailed Assessment: CFA/UFU Operational Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010

In its letter(s) to the Chairman and CEO on this matter VFBV made the following over-arching points:

  • VFBV remains committed to a volunteer based CFA organised on the current integrated model of volunteers and paid staff.

  • Reiterated VFBV’s very strong view that for this model to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Victoria there must be greater organisational priority and investment given to maintaining and building CFA volunteer capacity across the state.

  • That this included ensuring that there are no industrial barriers or restrictions to achieving this aim.

  • VFBV also stated their belief that any relevant industrial agreements and paid staff position descriptions should recognise and acknowledge the community based volunteer nature and organisation of CFA.

  • VFBV specifically highlighted the fact they do not seek to in any manner interfere in the lawful negotiations between CFA and any union on matters pertaining to the employee-employer relationship under the relevant industrial relations legislation where such matters do not impinge on legitimate volunteer interests.

[Note: Letters were sent to the Premier and Minister on 26 February noting VFBV concerns about the impact on volunteers by and arising from sections of UFU industrial agreements. This correspondence included a copy of our letter to the CFA detailing our over-arching concerns and the 12 points of our submission (listed below). Despite persistent follow-up by VFBV with the Premier, Minister and CFA, there was no consultation/discussion with VFBV or written response on these issues prior to the CFA concluding and Government agreeing to the new industrial arrangements with the UFU in late August 2010.]

In the letter to CFA, VFBV made the following submission regarding the CFA-UFU Operational Staff Agreement:

1) Scope of Agreement: Limit any inappropriate scope of agreement by including introductory clause: ‘Nothing in this agreement will limit or prevent in anyway whatsoever the recruitment, training, deployment, utilization and activities of CFA Volunteers and other emergency volunteers by the CFA in meeting its statutory duties and obligations.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. Over 97% of the CFA workforce is made up of volunteers. Paid operations staff comprises less than 1% of CFA workforce and yet they are increasingly a dominant force over CFA management. This clause would have provided clear and unambiguous protection of volunteers and volunteerism in the CFA from industrial interference as both a matter of principle and law. Our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

2) Objectives of Agreement: In the Objectives clause of agreement add the following words to the first sentence: ‘including the maintenance and growth of CFA volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies.’

RESULT: No such or similar clause is contained within the Enterprise Agreement. CFA is a community/volunteer based emergency service organisation. It would be appropriate that a key paid staff industrial agreement not only recognised this fact and was clear that a principal role of paid staff was to optimise volunteer and community capacity. Again, our concern is why this didn’t happen and what its exclusion signals for the future.

It is worth noting that under the Application of Agreement, Clause 6, there is a curious new clause:

6.2. No third party (except where expressly provided and excluding FWA or any court) shall have any right to interfere with the terms and conditions provided for in this agreement.

The wording is such that it would be used to prevent volunteers/VFBV making successful representations on those matters which impact volunteers either in the Enterprise Agreement or flowing from it (whether intended or not).

3) Position Descriptions: That position descriptions attached to the Agreement be suitably amended so that the section detailing ‘Primary Purpose of Position’ incorporates the following or similar words: ‘Assist and support the maintenance and growth of CFA Volunteer and general community capacity to plan, prepare, respond and recover from fire and other emergencies’. That ‘Key Result Areas’ of those position descriptions be amended by the insertion of the following words or similar: ‘Contribute to and support the growth of CFA volunteerism and ongoing development of CFA volunteer personnel for operational and organisational performance’.

RESULT: Position Descriptions for Operations Officer and Operations Manager are contained in Schedule 11 of the Enterprise Agreement. PDs for other positions are not detailed and assumed to be the same as current. There is no commitment in any PDs in ‘Primary Purpose/Objectives of Position’ or ‘Key Result Areas’ to anything even remotely similar to the words/sentiment requested. This omission means there is no stated obligation or work focus for paid staff to support the most fundamental of CFA objectives – supporting and growing CFA Volunteerism. The inclusion of such a key organisational objective is usually standard in position descriptions.

4) Remove any impediments to Volunteer Training and improve Volunteer access to training: Noting that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of volunteer training and the need for flexible training arrangements to meet volunteer needs and circumstances, remove any clauses or provisions which act as impediments to effectively meeting volunteer training requirements including limits on the use of appropriately qualified paid sessional instructors.

RESULT: At first reading there appears to be a slight improvement in CFA’s ability to access non-employee paid trainers (including sessional instructors) when paid instructors and qualified operations staff are not available to meet volunteer training needs. However, the actual process for engaging and using non-employee paid sessional instructors seems complex and difficult to practically implement.

The relevant clause in the Enterprise Agreement (99.2.2) provides that:

a) The relevant session must be indentified in advance as part of the current training syllabus or assessment syllabus;

b) The indentified instructor is absent through sickness or other unavoidable cause;

c) It can be demonstrated that the session is of an urgent nature and must take place;

d) Other career instructors, Leading Firefighters, Station Officers, Operations Officers or volunteers (unpaid) within a 100km radius cannot deliver that urgent session and it cannot be rescheduled;

e) Then CFA can source appropriate (non-employee paid) instructors to deliver that session.

These lengthy and seemingly rigid procedures appear to effectively continue the limits on the use of non-employee paid sessional trainers previously imposed by the UFU and thereby limit CFA’s capacity to flexibly meet volunteer training support requirements. This has been a long standing concern of volunteers which we sought to have addressed in our submission to CFA and Government. We will query CFA on the process they intend to use in meeting these Enterprise Agreement procedures so as to ensure volunteer training needs are met, including volunteer friendly timetabling and location needs.

An area of further concern is the apparent restrictions on PAD instructor working hours and the consequences for after hours volunteer training. The cost implications for CFA in meeting these requirements may be a significant disincentive for CFA to schedule after hours training for volunteers.

More generally, training arrangements are regulated by:

a) Clause 26 (Contracting Out/Maintenance of Classifications) requiring that training must be delivered first and foremost by any ‘employees in the classifications in the agreement directly employed by CFA’ except volunteers providing services as volunteers without remuneration;

b) Clause 93 (Improved Skills Enhancement and Training Delivery Arrangements) which provides for “The joint consultative process to review a broad range of training and development related matters will continue”. Specific matters for this CFA-UFU consultative arrangement includes “Processes to enable career personnel to provide competency based training and assessment for volunteers”. There is no role for volunteers/VFBV to be part of this consultation process;

c) Schedule 5 “Training Framework” appears binding on volunteers despite the fact that there has been no discussion or consultation with volunteers/VFBV. Clause 93.2 specifies that the parties (UFU & CFA) will revise this schedule within the first 6 months of the Enterprise Agreement. Again, there is no role for volunteers /VFBV in this stated process; and,

d) Schedule 6 “Joint Statement on Operational Training and Assessment” by CFA/UFU, states that all firefighters (career or volunteer) must have the competencies and skills to undertake the tasks required of them and that the operational training standards must be consistent across the CFA. The competencies, skills and training standards are imposed under the processes spelt out in the Enterprise Agreement. Under the heading ‘Training Delivery’ in schedule 6 (second dot point) it states: “Where paid operational training is delivered outside the AFC based Framework such training must be delivered and assessed by a process agreed by the parties” (ie. CFA and UFU). The effect of this is to give UFU further control over training.

The appointment of instructors continues to be industrially regulated and limited by Clause 99 ‘Terms and Conditions of Employment for Instructors’. Under this clause the UFU continue to have a dominant role in determining the eligibility of candidates for instructor positions, the criteria for selecting appointees as well as membership of Instructor Interview Panels. Despite the fact that training is a fundamentally important issue for volunteers we have no representation in consulting or participating in these matters. Clause 6.2 (set out above) seems to make it a breach of the Enterprise Agreement if we were to be so engaged.

5) Enable lateral entry/secondment of suitably qualified candidates to any level of rank or role within CFA without industrial impediment: To maximize CFA effectiveness in and through local communities remove impediments to lateral entry/secondment for qualified volunteers and other qualified people into any level of rank or role within CFA for which the CFA determines they are competent; that relevant volunteer experience and qualifications and recognition of prior learning based on experience be part of any relevant CFA qualification assessment regarding lateral entry.

RESULT: In a nutshell, restrictions on secondment and lateral entry remain rather than being a matter for CFA management selecting best available candidate for a position.

Clause 28 “Secondment and Lateral Entry” sets out the regulation of and procedures for secondment or lateral entry to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above. Secondment/lateral entry to positions below Leading Firefighter is prevented by the Enterprise Agreement.

Under the Clause, CFA firefighters shall be given priority for secondments and appointments/promotions to vacancies.

In the event there is a need to second to a long term vacant position (for up to 2 years) and there is no (suitable) candidate available within CFA paid firefighting staff, secondees can be secured externally provided they are an operational firefighting employee of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand. They must also hold the same or equivalent rank as that of the position to which they are seconded. Qualified and experienced volunteers and firefighters from private industry are ineligible for secondment.

Where permitted by the Enterprise Agreement, lateral entry to a position can only occur where the position has been advertised at least twice internally in CFA to operational firefighters. If there is no suitable applicant, CFA shall second someone to the position under the secondment rules (above). If there is still a vacancy at the end of any secondment period, the position has to be advertised internally once more. If there is no internal applicant, the secondee can be offered the position. If the secondee refuses the position (or in the case there was no secondment was secured) only then may the CFA seek external applications.

The actual lateral entry rules set out in the Enterprise Agreement are that:

a) Lateral entry is restricted to positions of Leading Firefighter, Station Officer or above;

b) Applications can only be received from operational firefighting employees of another recognised government fire service in Australia or New Zealand;

c) Any applicant must hold the same or equivalent rank as the position advertised;

d) The successful applicant will undertake a short course on CFA specific requirements and relevant skills.

Qualified and experienced volunteers are prevented from being laterally appointed to operational positions in CFA under these limitations. Operational firefighters from private firefighting services are also excluded. Even operational employees of recognised fire services are excluded if their application represents a promotion for them.

Sub Clause 99.1.2 of the Enterprise Agreement regulates the appointment, promotion or transfer of instructors “who is or was an external applicant or external appointee” to any other classification or position referred to in or covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

In full this sub clause reads:

“An instructor who is or was an external applicant or external appointee may not be appointed, promoted or transferred, and the CFA will not appoint, promote or transfer an external applicants or external appointee, to any classification or position referred to in or covered by the Agreement other than in accordance with this clause”.

Sub Clause 99.7.7 limits the lateral movement of such instructors into operational roles solely to those agreed with the UFU.

Clause 122 of the Agreement regulates lateral entry to positions of Operations Officer and Operations Manager. The provisions of this Clause require that;

a) the CFA has to demonstrate that no suitably qualified internal applicant exists;

b) the position must be advertised internally on two occasions;

c) only then proceed to either appoint an internal person who does not meet all of the requirements for appointment, or lateral entry of an external candidate.

d) If lateral entry is the selected option there is to be consultation and agreement between the parties to determine a competency based lateral entry process. If the parties cannot agree on this process then it shall be determined by Fair Work Australia (FWA). Such FWA determination shall only be effective for the life of the Bargaining Agreement.

6) Remove any impediment or limit to the provision of support to volunteers by appropriately qualified or designated paid staff: Recognising that the classification of Brigade Administrative Support Officers (BASOs) was specifically created and funded to provide administrative and organisational support for volunteer brigades, that the classification and functioning of BASOs and any similar classification be removed from the Operational Staff Agreement. Further such Operational Staff Agreement should not hinder, limit or otherwise impact on the role and function of BASOs in the provision of administrative and organisational support for volunteers. In addition to removing this matter from the operation of the subject Agreement, VFBV also submits that CFA explicitly undertake to ensure that the BASO classification is maintained and their number is expanded to enhance support for volunteers. Further, VFBV submits that CFA needs to consider deployment of other resources engaged specifically to proactively build community and volunteer capacity.

RESULT: The Enterprise Agreement contains no clause dealing with BASO or brigade support issues (excepting CSFs – see below).

Sub Clause 26.1 could be applied to limit or exclude brigade support duties performed by non-firefighters where the duties performed are also part of the prescribed duties/work of firefighters (stated as ‘classifications covered by the Agreement’). This was the UFU’s position in negotiations for the 2000 EBA, hence the reference to BASOs in the 2000 and 2002 Operative Staff EBAs.

The application of Point 1 above ran in tandem with this proposal to delete any reference to BASOs. We understand that the regulation of BASOs and other Brigade support matters may be covered by a Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU the full text of which has not been seen.

The Bargaining Agreement still prohibits CFA from appointing Community Support Facilitators and similar classifications and positions in Clause 70.

7) Selection and deployment of suitable vehicles and equipment within CFA be determined in a timely manner according to operational requirements determined by CFA management after proper consultation with relevant paid staff and volunteers. Any express or implied limits under the Agreement on the provision and suitable deployment of vehicles and equipment lawfully declared fit for use by CFA be removed. This should not in any way negate requirements for timely and genuine consultation (but not veto) by CFA with volunteers and paid staff over operational and equipment issues including standards and deployment of such equipment. Real safety issues regarding vehicles and equipment should be strictly dealt with under relevant occupational health and safety laws and not under an industrial agreement.

RESULT: Clause 92 of the Enterprise Agreement “New Appliances and Equipment” simply provides that “The CFA will use its best endeavours to develop within the first 6 months of this agreement guidelines for the design and specifications of appliances and equipment to be used in any station”.

There seems to be an inference that the CFA and UFU already have a separate agreement on such matters applying up until now and which is to be reviewed for application in the near future but there are no statements to that effect.

In the absence of any exclusion clause, matters related to “design and specification of appliances and equipment” could be argued as matters under Clause 14 “Introduction of Change” and therefore subject to the Agreement’s “Consultative Processes” contained in Clause 13. It could also be a matter for inclusion under the “CFA / UFU Consultative Committee” established under Clause 13.2 for which the terms of reference, membership and working arrangements are yet to be negotiated by the parties. The Bargaining Agreement says they will agree on these matters within six months of the Agreement being lodged with FWA.

In any case, it is a matter that can be made subject to Clause 15 “Dispute Resolution” where change, including introduction of new appliances and equipment, can be significantly delayed because no change can occur during the dispute resolution process which extends through a series of internal procedural steps, then to Fair Work Australia and, seemingly, then to appeals that may be pursued by the UFU from any FWA decision adverse to its interests or position.

Such a matter may also be dealt under Clause 16 ‘Consultation “Officer & Disputes Regarding Consultation and Change” which, if there is not agreement, leads back to Clause 15 the dispute resolution clause. In many ways, these arrangements could be said to be a pocket veto for the UFU – one they have used in the past under similar arrangements as part of negotiations on matters both related and unrelated to a subject dispute.

This matter requires clarification and advice from CFA.

8) Remove any limit or constraint on CFA’s employment and use of appropriately qualified non firefighter community education and related support staff: Whilst noting the important role that all classifications of existing operations staff should play in community education and that the issues of timing and location are pertinent matters in the effective provision of community education, that there be no limit or constraint placed on CFA in the agreement as to the employment and deployment of community education and support officers to support and supplement volunteers carrying out community education functions as deemed necessary.

RESULT: Under the Bargaining Agreement CFA is limited and constrained in the delivery of community education on fire prevention and awareness.

Clause 71 of the Agreement “Community Education” states that the deliverers of community education on fire prevention and awareness will be career Firefighters/Station Officers and only when they are not available volunteer Firefighters/Officers.

No other classification or employee is allowed to undertake community education duties.

This Clause differentiates between community education as described above and the delivery of special community information campaigns that do not have an educational (ie training) component.

In light of the Bushfires Royal Commission it is surprising that this limitation is included in the Agreement.

9) Consultation arrangements with paid staff not to include effective veto over change or unduly delay needed changes and initiatives: Whilst supporting the need for an effective and genuine consultation and dispute resolution system such a system must not incorporate an effective veto right nor unduly delay change and initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

RESULT: As discussed above in regard to new appliances and equipment, Clauses 13 and 15 of the Agreement enable the UFU to delay for at least a significant period of time any change or initiative by procedural means. In other words, they maintain their effective veto over needed timely change or initiatives deemed necessary for CFA to meet its statutory obligations and support and utilise volunteers.

10) Definition of employment matters under the Agreement: Explicitly, the definition of employment matters in the Operational Staff Agreement must not enable, or purport to enable, any provisions of the Agreement to constrain or limit the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA. A statement in the Agreement making this clear would be appropriate. The Agreement should be limited to core employee entitlement issues such as salaries, wages, allowances, leave entitlements and promotional opportunities. It should not seek to impact on the operational management or organisation of the CFA specified by relevant Victorian legislation.

RESULT: The reference to the ‘Definition of Employment’ as appeared in early negotiation drafts of the Agreement was excluded from the final Agreement. There is no statement or clause in the Agreement that covers this matter.

Consequently, the Enterprise Agreement’s provisions purport to be absolute and unrestricted by the statutory powers and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA established by Victorian Legislation (the CFA Act). In effect, this means that where there is a conflict between what’s in the Agreement (or what it authorises) registered under Federal industrial law and the powers, duties and obligations of the Chief Officer and the CFA created under Victorian law, it is a matter of constitutional legal interpretation and litigation, unless one side backs down.

As noted in this document (and there are other examples) there are a number of clauses which impact on operational management and organisation of the CFA so the constitutional legal issues are matters of consequence in the application of this Agreement in the CFA. For example, Clause 80 “Day Staffing” purports to restrict the Chief Officer and the CFA’s capacity to make staffing decisions based on operational need. A fuller discussion of Clause 80 is set out below under Point 12.

Clause 6 of the Agreement “Application of Agreement” it clearly states that the Agreement applies to and covers “all employees engaged in or performing work that is or may be performed by an employee engaged in a classification or occupation referred to in this agreement”. This is a very broad clause which when read literally means that the UFU can apply its rights and powers under the Agreement to in effect regulate the work done by non-UFU employees of CFA where there they perform work that can be characterised as the same as, similar to or could be done by classifications under the Agreement.

Under Clause 68, “Career Paths and Opportunities” Sub Clause 68.1 provides that the Enterprise Bargaining Implementation Committee (EBIC) will review in the first 12 months of the Agreement CFA’s recruitment and selection panel procedures. The resulting report will be tabled for consultation and therefore it is subject to disputes procedure if there is no agreement. In this case, FWA will be the determining body of CFA’s recruit and selection panel procedures.

11) Chief Officer and CFA must not be constrained or limited in the performance of their statutory duties by industrial agreements: Remove any purported limitation or constraint on the Chief Officer and CFA carrying out their express or implied statutory duty to review and determine all brigade, appliance and fireground staffing levels and requirements to meet CFA community service and safety obligations including the redeployment of paid staff positions to other locations as may be required (subject to suitable transfer allowances and arrangements which are an employment matter).

RESULT: Previous EBA clauses covering Board of Reference on staffing, the criteria for staffing review and new brigade staffing have been removed from this Agreement. The fate of the more powerful 2008 staffing ‘Disputes Panel’ (ie, the Merriman Disputes panel also known as the Board of Reference) set up under a separate Deed of Agreement between CFA and UFU is unknown.

Clause 27 of the Agreement, “Safe Staffing Levels” sets down for the first time in CFA the concept of a minimum number of paid staff on shift designated at the current level of 99. The location and rank of said staff is set down in Schedule 1 to the Agreement as is the number and rank of employees allocated to other (non-shift) positions. As the parties reach agreement on new staffing levels during the period of the Enterprise Agreement, both Clause 27 and Schedule 1 can be updated by mutual agreement making any new numbers on shift and their deployment fixed in law as new minimums.

Sub Clause 27.3 anticipates state government allocation of new firefighter positions to the CFA arising from the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) under the 2008 industrial arrangements and the Bushfires Royal Commission.

There is a sentence in the sub clause that says “In particular, the parties note that the Commission’s final report makes reference at 10.6.2, to the need to increase the number of career fire fighters and integrated stations”. This seems to present that the Royal Commission made additional paid staffing a recommendation when such was not the case.

In fact, the Commission simply noted in its summary the evidence of the CFA that it intended to increase the number of urban integrated stations from 31 to 38 by 2020 and the evidence of the UFU witness (Mr Thomas) regarding the 2009 Board of Reference (Disputes Panel). The recommendations of the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) which rejected the views and submissions of the CFA Chief Officer is of course subject to serious dispute by VFBV.

Nevertheless, Sub Clause 27.3 is the disguise under which the Government appears to have done an industrial “fix” to avoid political/industrial conflict with the UFU going in to the Victorian election by announcing that an additional 342 paid firefighters for the CFA had been approved under a four year funding package.

It is noteworthy to recall that CFA’s official submission to the Board of Reference (Disputes Panel) was that they may need up to 232 additional firefighters/officers by 2020. The Union’s position apparently totalled 684. It seems CFA, in conjunction with elements of Government, ended up making application to Government for the funding of significantly more paid firefighters than it had originally concluded may be needed by 2020.

It seems the “fix” is half what the UFU was seeking to be delivered by 2014/15 in half the time horizon submitted by the CFA. What will happen in the five years thereafter has been left for the next government, or possibly the one after that.

It is unclear exactly when or how these new paid firefighters will be recruited, trained and deployed.

There has been no consultation with VFBV on this matter despite the impact it will have on volunteers in integrated brigades and volunteer brigades to which CFA may seek to allocate 24/7 paid staff.

12) New classification of dedicated day shift firefighters: Recognising that some brigades need temporary and flexible support from paid operations staff from time to time, e.g. seasonal, day shift weekdays, to deal with temporary volunteer availability or during periods of brigade rebuilding, that a day shift fire fighter classification be created to provide such flexible as required support to brigades.

RESULT: There is no day shift classification created as requested. In fact, Clause 80 of the Agreement, “Day Staffing” kills the ability to deploy permanent day shift firefighters to volunteer brigades under the continuum.

From here on in, day shift staffing can only remain at brigades so specified in the Bargaining Agreement (that is, current arrangements noted in Schedule 1) and as an interim step to 10/14 roster staffing regardless of actual need. To implement even this step, the parties (CFA and UFU) must agree in writing to the timetable for achieving 24/7 shift manning. Thus the UFU again has veto power on new staffing of brigades – the dates / timetable covering interim day manning and progression to 10/14 shifts regardless of need. This kills a major feature of the continuum, that is to make staff support decisions based on brigade needs assessment and recognise that most brigades needing staff support only require it weekdays.

A review of existing day shift arrangements may also be provided for under the new Deed of Agreement but we are awaiting advice on this.

Volunteers Reaction

In recent months, we have been flooded with volunteers’ emails and letters. Below is a small sample. Typical subjects include CFA’s recent union deal, budget cuts and the funding of 342 additional paid firefighters while volunteers face rationing of training and equipment.

If you would like to add your comment, please use the Submit Comment/Feedback button above. Names are always removed to protect your privacy.

The response to the Age re: the Welfare Fund (see Letter to the Editor – VFBV Welfare Fund on VFBV’s Media Releases page) was very well done. Concise, accurate and delivered a positive tone regarding this issue. The author should be congratulated unlike the Age employees responsible for the original article which was an appalling example of journalism. As a long time Age reader I am dismayed at the editorial standards that allow such a poor standard of reporting space on the pages of a once respected broadsheet.
Volunteer, District 23

One question I would like a answer to is we have four members from vfbv on the board,I beleive that the Eba was signed off by all board members.Why did OUR reps from VFBV sign the EBA with out speaking to the vols first. Also I have read on connect that their are still ten points the VFVB would like to know about why cant OUR board members get us a copy of these.I will be at the special meeting the VFBV has called and I will ask this question.
Volunteer, District 13

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "i'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up". There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed. I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty. So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Having read all the current comments, I can only agree, IT IS TIME TO TAKE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!! Until recently I thought I was one of a few who has seen the writing on the wall. Now it seems we are all in agreement. Let's stop 'pussy footing' around and agree at the rally to; Refuse to fill or phone in FIRS reports, DO NOT book 'In Station' after a job (a tactic used by MFB UFU members in the 1990's). Inundate District HQ's with trivial requests as well as O.H.& S. requests, and any other administrative trivial matters. We can still protect our communities and communicate with each other via radio / mobile phone etc. That's why we have Groups. Let's use the UFU's tactics, it works for them. Without we VOLUNTEERS CFA is NOTHING. 
Volunteer, District 14

My question and more so suggestion does not relate to the usual Vol/career staff discussion but is more to do with the way volunteer elections are held. How many brigades members out there disagree with the fact that non operational members have the ability to vote on operational roles. A large proportion of our brigade are part of the running team and play no part in the day to day operation of the brigade, and not one of them attends fire training or calls. So why is it then that they can vote on Lt's that control the members at fires??? With the exception of one of our brigades officers none of the others are respected, nor are they wanted in those positions, but as the non operational members have the power of the vote, they get in. This is certainly not something that is just an issue in my brigade, from speaking to other vols it’s an issue state wide.. once this is sorted we may have people in control of brigades that have the willingness to get in peoples faces and say enough is enough.. and get the treatment we deserve, instead of the "Yes Men" that so many brigades seem to be controlled by... I am certainly one of many that has had enough and is very close to resigning from the CFA after nearly 20 years... 
Volunteer, District 2

I'm amazed at the length of things that happen under the table in CFA looking after the career staff who make up a pittance of the CFA organisation. Our brigade has voted to not put up with this and fight. I encouige all brigades, districts or regons to become aware and active in rasing awairness of the conditions that the EBA will impose on Volinteers. 
Volunteer, District 14

If I may offer a suggestion :
Draft up a sample letter provide that sample letter to every brigade Captain and if possible every CFA firefighter, with a list of the names and addresses of every State politician upper and Lower House and request the brigade members to write/copy and send the letter to their two local politicians (upper and lower house) the letter should demand that they each make representation on our behalf to change the obnoxious clauses (Or Make CFA keep their word to the volunteer organisation). The threat being that if they do not do so within a week or so then we will be asking our brigade members to vote at the State Election on 27 Nov against the encumbent upper and lower house members.

Given the election is only a few weeks away you should move quickly but it can be done.

Immediately after tghe election a similar campaign at the federal level should be commencesd as well as targetting newly elected State MPs . One letter from the president will not win the day 1,000 letters from CFA voters all over the state will!
Volunteer, District 15

As a Volunteer, I'm really interested to see everyone banging on about the Volunteer Charter and how it should become law. Well before we go down this road perhaps we should get our own yard in order one of the principles of the charter for Volunteers to do is to treat CFA employees with a mutual, respectful and active partnership. Well given some of the comments I have seen written by fellow Volunteer members one inparticular referring to career firefighters as cancers is not going to help us.

Is our fight with individual or all the career firefighters or is it with CFA. I think the VFBV Executive needs to lift their game and ensure that we do not get in to a them and us battle with the career firefighters otherwise guess who is going to suffer. The community, thats who.

We need to all remember why we joined the CFA, it was for the community.

I am a very disallusioned volunteer especially when I see personal attacks agains fellow firefighters.
Volunteer, District 22

It appears easy for the party in opposition to make wide-ranging promises which are easily cast aside once that party gains power. Unfortunately as volunteers and voters we have become immune to promises made due to a road that has become littered with many shattered promises made in the heat of the moment driven by the possibility of gaining votes and therefore, power.

With a volunteer base numbering approx 58,000 potential voters, then add partners, family, friends of all volunteers, we could become a very powerful political force which would command respect from those in government.

So the question begs asking - why don't we! Most volunteers join purely to be able to help out their immediate and all communities in times of emergency. Becomming a CFA volunteer is not a politically driven decision - this is the furthest thing on our minds.

It is therefore disheartening to see so many disillusioned volunteers who believe that their basic volunteer needs are now being discarded along that road with the shattered promises without so much as the opportunity to make comment or have meaningful input.

So, why should we believe the opposition when they promise support for the volunteers by way of law and finance - is this all another charade to use volunteers as pawns in their power play?

As for our Association - where are you? Everyone easily recognises the UFU leader - would we so easily recognise our Association leader?

Yes, we will still continue to attend to emergencies, fundraise within our own communities for much needed equipment and 'make do' in relation to communications/training/protective clothing.

WHY - BECAUSE WE ARE VOLUNTEERS AND PROUD TO BE - HELP US CONTINUE TO BE SO PROUD!!!
Volunteer, District 8

The way in which volunteers have been taken for granted by CFA and others is deplorable. How often do we here "I'm all right, if something happens a red truck will just turn up".
There seems to be a ground swell asking for a rally to show our discontent. A rally can be very dangerous if all volunteers are not committed.
I believe the VFBV on the volunteers behalf, should go down the path of an enterprise agreement for volunteers only. This EB would be between CFA and volunteers and could be solely based on conditions. The EB could guarantee levels of funding for training, equipment etc over the life of the agreement which would give volunteers some certainty.
So VFBV, if an EB is possible on conditions only, please explore this option.
Volunteer, District 9

Why have the Volunteers not had a rally.? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA.
Volunteer, District 14

I get the feeling this is really starting to get to a lot of people … time to start taking our own action I reckon!!

When the regions feel pressure from us it will push to HQ. Try some UFU tactics I reckon, no fire reports, no protected premises sheets, call the RDO to pick up dirty hose … anything that does not actually affect service to the community should be considered in my opinion.
Volunteer, District 7

I would like to thank the VFBV for working so hard against these incompetents who are paid CFA personnel and executive. We appreciate you correcting the words they print and we know they are wrong!!! WE are very grateful for standing up for the volunteers and we all know without them Victoria would BURN!!
Volunteer, Region 24

The EBA is the biggest joke around, you guys really need to read some of the clauses in it, if this was private industry we would be out of business.
Volunteer, District 8

What can I as a volunteer do about it? Who do I need to hassle?
Volunteer, District 14

Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free.

There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard.
Volunteer, District 23

We need to have our say VFBV arrange a rally asap. The CFA has stations falling down around the vols but we can pay STAFF 1 Hours pay to pick up a phone for overtime it’s ****ed. HELP US VFBV
Volunteer, District 8

Why is it that OH&S only applies to staff members , the Pumper Tanker that was due to arrive at my station was left to rust away at the DMO's according to my OO , so to overcome this problem by stelth it was delivered to the station next door...no discussion with my brigades BMT , of course the rumour file was well ahead of the vehicle and now all sorts of backside covering is taking place to try and assure disgruntled members.....UFU members state that the VDC had not signed off on the locker configeration...so it's now an OH&S issue.....no Pumper Tankers in Intergrated Brigades.....so members outside these arrangements can use the vehicle....Please Explain?

Bad enough the OO tried to pull the wool over our eyes , but what use is the Volunteer Charter or an other agreement if the UFU can become the umpire on all matters , move away from agreements and Brigade planning to flex there muscle...what are we suposed to be classed as second class in our own Station......time to fight for our rights , if The Volunteer Charter is the document that we look to for guidance ,it needs to be empowered and embraced by the people that signed it......a peice of paper is just that unless it has some worth . I am yet to be convinced that it is more that just chest thumping.
Website Comment

Ladies and Gents Its time for all Volunteers to take a leaf out of the UFU's book and stand together and tell the CFA and the UFU and its members that we are not going to be treated like this, we are not going to put up with second class conditions and training, The next Thing before we know it it will be total segregation Vols to the Back staff to the front "No Vols Here" What does all this sound like ?

I urge every volunteer member to rally against the CFA and THe UFU I ask that the VFBV arranges a rally so that we can all tell the CFA the UFU and the State Govt That we are not going to sit by and let all our rights be washed down the toilet

Everyone who reads this should request the the VFBV arranges a rally asap.
Volunteer, District Withheld

Volunteer disrespect.

Enough is enough! - the real issue here is not being unfairly disadvantaged because we choose to volunteer. Volunteers are proud of what we do and are willing to contribute but NOT at the expense of our rights and dignity. As a volunteer I do not want to dictate staff wages and conditions, I hope all staff get a proper wage and the best conditions they can - they deserve this and better and I don't care if they are members of the UFU, this is not the issue, it is only clouding the truth - The issue is that the Volunteer charter has been ignored by Government and CFA and volunteers rights have been eroded to being "unincluded third parties". (sic Mick Burke CFA CEO).

We are well under resourced, have insufficient tools to do the job and are not supported in many cases. We are not consulted on things which have a direct impact on us untill after the event, if at all, and even then it is a condescending and patronisingly feeble attempt to get back in our favour. Come on Government and CFA, include us in matters which impact on us before you write policy, employ more firefighters or spend money. The Bushfire Royal Commission missed one key element - it made no recommendations to improve the volunteer capacity or spirit. It recognised the importance of volunteers but took us for granted assuming we would always be around - again the indemic ignorance of volunteers even at the BRC level.
A simple ask, Please put something in place by including us in the discussions to ensure our rights are protected and enforced and then you will see the numbers of volunteers grow and you won't need as many career people to fill the gap created by discregard, complacency and disrespect.
Volunteer, District 4

The CFA needs to man up if all the volunteers walk out then what would thay do . Its all about the STAFF STAFF and UFU what about the vols stand up for what is right CFA.
Volunteer, District 8

Might i just say maybe the association has seemed to be just looking after running for to long and now it seems too late?The Union is strong and in front - it may be time for strong action
Volunteer, District 7

VFBV you need to stop sitting on the fence writing comments in face book and having Vols write comments in the Weekly Times ect. Arrange a rally NOW

We cant sit by any longer, I know of a brigade that had 50 Vols its now down to under 30 and the OIC (staff) is not allowing them to recruit GET OFF THE BLOODY FENCE LETS RALLY NOW.
Volunteer, District 14

Now is the time for all Volunteers to actively seek response from all candidates for the up coming state elections. and go with the candidate that will look after volunteers interests, and not their union mates.
Volunteer for 45 years, District 2

Great ! The poor Ambos get 100 staff who actually work full time and all night, but the CFA gets another 342 who sleep through the night !
Volunteer, District 8

A wise old fire fighter once said to me after returning home from a central council meeting at fiskville, the c.f.a is buggered - its board is rotting from the core out, i just laughed at him. He told me this 10 years ago, if he was alive today he would be laughing at me.
Volunteer, District 4

[Re the comment on SES taking the influx of disenchanted CFA volunteers]...The SES vols are even worse off - their board is stacked with Labor Party appointees with just ONE vol, and their association isn't represented at all.

I hope everyone here is prepared to step up and support VFBV - how many brigades don't even have a rep?
Volunteer, District 14

The CFA is letting all Volunteers down, with the way they have signed our rights away. We as Volunteers need to take action now. We all should write to our local member and ask what they are going to do for us after the next election if elected. We should also send Brumby a message that we are p\'d off and vote him out. 60000 votes against his party would send a clear message that he has let the volunteers down and we are not going to accept it.

We cant be the same as the UFU and take strike action or put bans in place because we all think to much of the communities where we live, if the shoe was on the other foot none of the brothers would hesitate to take action and put bans in place I urge all volunteers to make a stand.
Volunteer, District 14

I am a concerned volunteer at a urban intrigrated station. We have been told that the Pumper Tankers that were to be delivered to Intrigrated stations will not be coming due to the UFU and the pressure their members have put on the CFA. They say its because of OH&S issues, I know for a fact its because the CFA tried to take a stand against the UFU early on and build the trucks to suit all.

What gives the UFU the right to say the truck is no good for our members however give it to the Volunteer station down the road they will love it. IF there is OH&S concerns, the CFA and the UFU have a duty of care to all to explain the faults / issues and rectify said issues and then seed the units into the brigades that they were meant to go to.The ops teams at all these brigades did risk assessments and decided that the pumper tankers were the vehicles to suit their needs.

The CFA needs to take a stand against the UFU and fix the OH&S issues if that is the case or if there is no OH&S issues put the units into service at the brigades. Let them take action and lets get the media involved and show them that the UFU has only one concern its members and conditions not the COMMUNITY. The UFU members mostly dont live in the area where they work as such the care factor is low. Its time that the VFBV and the volunteers said enough is enough. CFA take control and put the UFU on notice that we are not going to stand for it any longer Let the staff go on strike. I would take time of work as would many other Vols to keep my community safe.
Volunteer, District 14

I'm disgusted at the way the EBA has been accepted. The CFA was a magnificent organisation of selfless, honourable people but from what I've seen over the last 5 years, the whole structure has begun to implode and will soon be unrecognisable. Brigade Captain, District 8

The CFA Board has seriously let the volunteers down. Lately it seems CFA and the government have been on a mission to put hurdles in the volunteers' way. CFA volunteers are sick of the hollow pats on the back from CFA/government after each major event. Volunteer, District 10

The current attitude of CFA and the Government makes a mockery of the Volunteer Charter. The introduction of the new Pumper Tanker into Integrated Brigades is being controlled by the UFU, CFA appears to be unable to make decisions based on operational needs rather than union/political influence. Volunteers in some Integrated Brigades are being treated like second class citizens and can't doing anything unless the staff agree to it whilst the staff appear to be able to do what they want and get what they want. Is it time we marched on Parliament House and handed back to the Government our copies of the Volunteer Charter? We need to do something sooner rather later.
Volunteer, District 14

Firstly I would like to say that this is real issue that must be dealt with a campaign that the union and the State Government will sit-up and take notice of. I would like to see the VFBV take the bull by the horns and take this issue all the way to the State Government, it was only last year that we saw again volunteers protecting people and those same volunteers need the training to help them protect themselves and the community that we live in today. I would like to say that I am a union member of the TWU and the UFU must protect their members but this goes against the Volunteer charter that the State Government signed.
Volunteer, District 14

Unfortunately the dogmatic UFU behind the scenes just sees Volunteers as "scabs" taking legitimate fire fighting work from career comrades, brothers and union members. Union members are OO, OM now under one EA, providing a closed career path only to entrenched union members influenced by the UFU doctrine, and managed via intense personal pressure from union officials. As you will often hear sorry we cannot do anything about it, since it is "the law" To break ranks you are now turning your back on ALL other union comrades in all issues affecting any aspect of the CFA. There is "strength in unity" but there is all so subservient pressure that can be used to unduly influence any decisions, hence the union officials hold a power position, in regards to any CFA decision. The prime goal of the union is to remove "scabs" and increase pay and conditions to members at any cost, especially when this goal can be veiled behind any other hidden agenda, that achieves the same outcome. The union is patient in in pursuit of power and influence, preferring stealth and legal trickery to slowly advance it's primary agenda. The volunteer charter is not "the law" and like the vital valued Victorian campaign, just a lip service pat on the back, similar to "yes you have been a good child, now go and play", leaving the decisions to the professionals. What ever happened to one CFA? It seemed the union didn't like that approach, the VFBV should be lobbying for the ONE CFA policy, with the actual integration of both volunteer and career staff, same training, same rank, same qualifications..... Volunteer, District Withheld

Here we see yet another under-handed dealing by the Government without consultation. Perhaps its just another sweetheart deal with a labour party supporter prior to the election. I hope the SES can handle the influx of volunteers as those within the CFA see their voice continually not being heard and even more money thrown at the higher levels of the bureaucracy, whilst the volunteers can\'t even get wet weather gear. The 60,000 volunteers in the CFA need to think long and hard about the forthcoming election. Ask your local candidates where they stand on volunteer support and the future funding of the CFA at volunteer level. Once the CFA was driven by the volunteers with support. Now we have a totally autocratic approach with the volunteers becoming more and more disenchanted. Perhaps Mr.Brumby might like to consider the option of employing a whole lot more paid firefighters or looking after something that the taxpayers currently get for free. There is an election coming up......make the volunteers voice heard. Volunteer, District 23

It appears that it is about time that a rally is organised... When the UFU wants their way or wants to get there point across to the CFA, Government & the Community, they stage a rally! Why have the Volunteers not had a rally? It is time to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in and stop rolling over to the UFU & CFA. Many people I talk to believe that the UFU is also their for the Volunteers and that Volunteers are well looked after. We all know that this is not the case and maybe it's time that we did something about. I like many others are proud to be a Volunteer Firefighter, however over the past couple of years I have started to lose my dedication and respect for the CFA, and if it continues I will join the list of many others who are going to leave. VFBV does a great job working with the Volunteers. But maybe its time they started to get out to the stations more often and also start applying some Union like tactics before it is too late.
Volunteer, District 14

Some small stations don't even have a bloody dunny or for that matter water!
Website Comment

Without the volunteers the CFA is GONE!!! Start listening CFA . I strongly suggest the CFA involve the Volunteers & learn from all those experienced fire-fighters.Listen CFA - or you will have even less Volunteers support this season. We are sick of "change for change sake" stuff - Many of we older & experienced volunteers do not have the respect of the current CFA so how on earth are the newer volunteers going to accept the CFA's rotten attitude other than by walking out & leaving the permanent staff to keep on stuffing up what WAS a mighty organisation of times by. Wake up Mr. Brumby - you are not listening either. You are all talk & won't listen to we Volunteers either. The State of Victoria is at an all-time low in Volunteer morale & both the CFA & Government need to take a look at their own attitude to Volunteers & embrace these supportive people who give of their time so freely. Wake up & listen - for goodness sake!!!
Website Comment

You only have to look at the stuff up with the new structral turnout gear. We are being treated as a joke at CFA
Website Comment

Volunteers give up their evening and or days to train to better serve the community. They leave their families and friends to go to emergencies in their time. We need to give them more support.
Website Comment

I think [CFA] are serious and they believe they know what is best. It is understanding that we mean consult before deciding, they seem to be prepared to consult after the decision is taken.
Website Comment

In my time I have found CFA uses the charter after an incident to cover their positions.
Website Comment

I feel that CFA is more and more being controlled by the UFU. As a member of an integrated Brigade it appears the staff get what ever they want but no so the volunteers. The right of veto held by the UFU is very strong. Our Brigade has had a new Pumper/Tanker allocated (it is waiting at the DMO's) but it will not come to the Brigade until (if ever) the UFU gives it's approval and then they are trying to get Heavy Tankers allocated to all Integrated stations whether they need them or not.
Website Comment

It is clear from the manner and methods used regarding the Region boundary changes that the Board and the some parts of CFA don't give a toss about the vols. They only care about keeping in the good books with a shoddy government. Get rid of them all and hopefully a new Board will consult with the vols before commiting to important decisions. Ignoring the VFBV and the Vols concerns regarding the EB is just another example of their ignorance. When will it stop?
Website Comment

The CFA Board including the VFBV representatives on the board should be ashamed of the lack of consultation over the Boundary Alignment issue. No consultation was attempted until the CEO let the cat out of the bag with his blog. Absolutely shameful! They should hane their heads in shame.
Website Comment

Suggest CFA executive and others in the CFA policy decision structure, be given a test to assess their knowledge of the Charter. Results to be published. Website Comment

The Volunteer Charter obligations were not met from CFA in regards towards the initial consultation on Boundary Alignment. What consultation? when our CFA CEO blogged on CFA Connect!!
Website Comment

As an active Operational firefighter, I missed out on First Aid training due to lack of spaces. On WIN TV tonight, this issue was raised, stating that funding was needed to cover wages for the extra career firefighters being employed. This is alarming if our training is being sacrificed to meet union demands. I strongly support the claim made on the TV programme tonight, that all Operational volunteers should receive First Aid training. Personally, I would like to do First Aid training.
Volunteer, District 12

I would also take issue with the statement that pay and working conditions of paid firefighters is purely a matter between employer and employees. I believe all taxpayers, including volunteers, have the right to know where our tax dollars are going. The community needs to fully understand the cost of employing extra firefighters is not just in the generous pay and conditions but the cost of station modifications for sleeping quarters etc.
Volunteer, District 7

We're being shafted.
Volunteer, District 8

Thursday, 28 February 2013 00:00

Jones Inquiry (2011)

Written by

Updated: 11 August 2015

The Independent Inquiry into Effect of Arrangements on Country Fire Authority Volunteers, led by retired County Court Judge, the Honourable David Jones, was launched in 2011.

VFBV successfully called for the Inquiry to conduct sessions in regional areas and lodged a detailed submission on behalf of volunteers.

Our key messages were that;

  • the volunteer-based service model is vital for Victoria;
  • CFA’s integrated approach must continue;
  • the community needs to be educated about the professionalism, capacity and performance of volunteers;
  • the right CFA culture, leadership and human resource management arrangements are key;
  • there must be acceptance that volunteers are the CFA and must be genuinely engaged in decision making; and
  • VFBV’s role must be respected and supported.

Shortly before reporting to the State Government, Judge Jones told volunteers at the VFBV Open Forum that his report focused on positive moves to maintain the long term sustainability of the current model of CFA. He said VFBV, as the volunteers’ association, is of fundamental importance to that sustainability.

Released not long afterwards, the Jones Inquiry’s report pointed to the need for a step change in the leadership approach and culture of CFA, much greater transparency in decision making and consultation with volunteers – key ingredients for a more effective volunteer-based fire and emergency service.

VFBV called for a clear implementation plan for the required improvements, and wanted to be involved in the development and monitoring of its progress.

The independent Inquiry’s findings validated the major concerns that volunteers had raised repeatedly over recent years.

The report called for more easily accessible training for CFA volunteers, proper transparency in CFA’s decision making, genuine consultation and full utilisation of qualified, experienced volunteers, from the front line to instructors and specialist roles and the top level incident management roles.

It also called for recognition of the training and experience of volunteers when they apply for employment as full time firefighters or staff with CFA, and for the removal of barriers to administrative support to volunteer brigades.

CFA published its Jones Inquiry implementation plan in December 2012, but through the following year VFBV expressed concerns about slow progress, and in December 2013 CFA commissioned an internal review, which led to a revision of the March 2014 progress report and eventually CFA’s project management structure, to ensure better attention to the actions.

See below to download a copy of the Jones Report.

VFBV submitted a range of documents to the Jones Inquiry, including our submissions to the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, click here to see those documents.

 

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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