Vic CFA board dilemma over pay deal

Victoria’s CFA bosses fear they could be forced out if they refuse to sign a controversial pay deal the premier has pushed for with the firefighters’ union.


It’s understood the board and newly-appointed chief executive Lucinda Nolan are united in refusing to sign the United Firefighters Union pay deal.

The union wants to include a clause allowing it to veto management decisions, which Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett is also refusing to agree to.

Premier Daniel Andrews recently supported the veto clause, which he said was actually about consulting with staff.

Mr Andrews met with union boss Peter Marshall shortly before pushing for a deal – a push that met with strong disagreement in cabinet.

Acting CFA chair John Peberdy said the board got an in-depth briefing but no decision had been made on a deal.

“Understandably, there has been significant attention about the operational EBA negotiations and what the union’s claims mean for CFA,” Mr Peberdy said on Friday.

“No deal has been made, and we will continue to work with the state government and the union to resolve the EBA negotiations quickly.”

The CFA fears the board and management could be sacked or forced to resign if the premier’s office holds fast on the “consultative committee” clause, and replaced with a board who are willing to sign it.

Ms Garrett told parliament no deal had been done.

When asked if she ruled out a consultative committee being put in place for the CFA, Ms Garrett said: “My views on those matters are very clear and are a matter of public record.”

The government has offered a 19 per cent pay rise over three years, with all conditions rolled over from the 2010 agreement, but the union has rejected it.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy said the union’s claim – which also requires seven paid firefighters to be at a fire before it can be fought – should be rejected.

“The Labor government has a choice – either back 800 unionists or you back 60,000 CFA volunteers, the largest volunteer organisation in Australia,” Mr Guy told reporters.

“That should be a no-brainer.”

Hundreds of CFA volunteer firefighters drove their trucks past Parliament House on Saturday to show their support for Ms Garrett against the union.

Mr Marshall has also recently met with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.