VFF backs CFA volunteers’ campaign – donate now!

Tuesday 14 June, 2016

VICTORIA’S peak farmer lobby group has backed volunteers’ campaign to block the State Government ramming through a deal with the Unions that is unfair, costly and discriminatory.

Almost a thousand VFF members have already put their names to an online petition calling on the government and CFA not to sign the new Enterprise Agreement with the United Firefighters Union.

“The VFF is now throwing its support behind Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria’s legal challenge to the union deal,” VFF President Peter Tuohey said.

“Ultimately a few dollars donated now could save us all thousands of dollars in higher Fire Services Property Levies to cover this union deal in years to come.”

Donations to the Save Our CFA fund can be made:

 Directly via Account Name: VFF, BSB: 033-605, Account Number 373978. (Please reference your Surname followed by your Initials)

 Or send credit card details (including Name, Card Type, Number, expiry date and CSV code on back of card) to
saveourcfa@vff.org.au

Funds raised will help cover the legal costs incurred by VFBV, provide community education around the impacts of the union deal, and assist in organising a campaign to oppose the deal.

The VFF is calling for an immediate freeze on implementation of the Enterprise Agreement, re-negotiation and removal of clauses that give the union the power to restrict the CFA from controlling its own resources and staffing, plus reinstatement of the CFA Board.

The VFF is also calling on the Government to sit down with VFBV to renegotiate clauses of the agreement that restrict the CFA from controlling its own resources.

Mr Tuohey said VFF members were angered by the State Government’s decision to put the interests of 500-odd CFA career firefighters, who are members of the union, ahead of 60,000 volunteers.

Premier Daniel Andrews has seriously damaged his reputation with country Victorians after agreeing to push through this deal with the UFU.

“Not only has the Premier sacrificed his Emergency Services Minister and the CFA board, he’s sacrificed his credibility among country Victorians and their 60,000 CFA volunteers,” Mr Tuohey said.

“It’s a sad day when the Premier puts a union with just 500-odd members in the CFA ahead of 60,000 volunteers.

“Farmers had gained enormous respect for the Premier, since he came to power in November 20I4, given his Government’s investment in rural Victoria and support during the drought and recent dairy crisis.

“But I can tell now farmer CFA volunteers feel like the Premier and his team have abandoned them in a bid to cut a deal with the unions.

“We’re already hearing of people wanting to quit the CFA and others wanting to boycott payment of the Fire Services Property Levy that funds it.”

We’ve had comments like:

“It is with deep regret that I request that you hand back my CFA Sixty Service Years Medal to the Premier and the Victorian Government. I do this to show distress at the manner in which CFA volunteers have been treated in the current negotiations, and concern that a formerly good relationships between volunteers and local permanent officers have been damaged.” – Moyhu Brigade Member letter to local MP

“I feel the CFA members are one of the greatest groups that unite people to protect and look after each other. Now the big brother Union wants to break up the unit and community spirit purely for their own greed. How very un-Australian” – Respondent to VFF survey

In response to the resignation of Former Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett: “Typical of what happens when rural Victoria gets a minister we get on with.”

The VFF has launched a petition that calls on the State Government and CFA not to rubber stamp the 2015 EA with the UFU until:

 All clauses are removed from the agreement that restrict the CFA Chief Officer and board from exercising their right to recruit, direct and allocate staff to where they are needed. (The draft agreement currently states the CFA must employ another 509 career firefighters by June 30, 2019).

 All clauses are removed from the agreement that force the CFA to gain UFU approval to employ casual and part-time staff, allocate resources and appliances. As it stands the CFA must gain union approval (on a case-by-case basis) before any casual or part-time staff can be employed, which acts as a major barrier to women working as paid CFA firefighters.

 The full cost of the draft Agreement to the CFA and State Government has been independently assessed and made public. This assessment must not only consider the impacts of additional staffing and wage increases, but also the cost of increased allowances, penalties and resources needed to employ existing UFU members, plus 509 additional paid firefighters.

 The full impact of the draft agreement on the Fire Services Property Levies that Victorian farmers, households and businesses pay to fund the CFA is independently assessed and made public. This assessment must cover the period up until at least June 30, 2019.

The VFF is calling on all concerned Victorians to sign the petition, which will remain open until the dispute is resolved – http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5381a2f70092cc72dd15e5fdd&id=d6210e1256

Media Contacts:

Peter Tuohey, VFF President: 0428 952 425

Ashley Mackinnon, VFF Public Affairs Officer: 0417 165 784