Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — I rise today in regard to the Premier’s meddling in enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) negotiations with the United Firefighters Union. Everyone agrees that career firefighters deserve fair pay and conditions — and this has never been disputed — but there are genuine concerns raised by Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers on aspects of the said EBA that need addressing. The following is an extract from correspondence sent to the Premier by some of my local CFA volunteers which highlights the issues and potential impacts very clearly. It says, and I quote:
I write this letter with concern and make call on you to right a wrong that impacts on me and 57 000 other volunteers and career staff in the CFA. I, like many others, paid and unpaid, joined the CFA to protect our communities from fire and other emergencies. This is a commitment I make and reaffirm every day, obtaining and maintaining skills, giving freely of my time and appreciating the sacrifices that my family makes to enable me to do it. BUT enough is enough when one body of 880 persons you are going to support in preference to the 57 000 volunteers, allowing this small group to have veto and right of decision-making over our board and chief officer and me in the name of industrial relations is abhorrent!
On Saturday we saw CFA volunteers from across the state of Victoria, including those in the Morwell electorate, converge on Parliament House to send a very strong and clear message to the Premier. One can only hope that the Premier listens clearly to the voices of our CFA volunteers, because without their dedication, commitment and resources our communities would be in dire straits.