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Premier faces pressure to meet with CFA volunteers

05 May 2016


Thursday 5 May 2016

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is facing increasing pressure to meet with local CFA volunteers over the enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) the government is currently negotiating with the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan asked the Premier in Parliament to meet with a delegation of CFA volunteers to hear their concerns directly.

Meanwhile, a petition launched to show the community’s support for local volunteers is gaining momentum, attracting hundreds of signatures. Euroa residents can sign the petition at www.stephryan.com.au/hands_off_the_cfa.

Ms Ryan said she had been bombarded with phone calls and emails from volunteers from across the region, upset by the details of the draft agreement which if signed would cause irrevocable damage to the CFA and bring an end to one of the greatest traditions in the state.

“The Premier has sidelined volunteers by meeting directly with UFU chief Peter Marshall to discuss the proposed deal,” Ms Ryan said.

The current version of the enterprise bargaining agreement would give the UFU control over CFA operations.

“It proposes to hand the union the power to veto CFA decisions and diminishes the role of volunteers, replacing volunteer support staff with paid firefighters.

“Not only does it demands that seven paid firefighters be on a fireground before any firefighting starts, but it also bans paid firefighters from reporting to volunteers.

“If a fire starts in Strathbogie, volunteers will have to wait an hour for paid staff to arrive from Shepparton before they are allowed to fight the fire.”

Ms Ryan said it was critical that the Premier agreed to meet with volunteers before the negotiations went any further.

“Daniel Andrews does not appear to have stopped for one moment to consider the volunteers who have put their lives on the line to fight some of the worst fires this state has ever seen, including the Black Saturday fires which affected a large part of our region.”

Ms Ryan said the government had faced a barrage of questions regarding the negotiations in Parliament over the past few weeks.

“Neither the Premier nor the Emergency Services Minister would rule out signing an EBA that disadvantages volunteers,” Ms Ryan said.

The government should be under no illusion about how strongly communities across our region feel about this issue.”

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