AN EMERGENCY meeting was held in Kilcunda early Saturday morning with both Bass MP Brian Paynter and Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Brad Battin hearing the concerns of local CFA volunteers.
Local fire fighting volunteers say the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), being pushed through by Premier Daniel Andrews, will have an impact on 60,000 volunteers.
When asked by a volunteer why the government is so determined to push through the EBA, Mr Paynter made clear his feelings.
“This is payback. Plain and simple,” he said.
“The Premier did a deal with Peter Marshall in the lead up to the last election, and this is where it’s coming home to roost. They want to push this through at any cost. This is affecting an angry swell of volunteers here.”
Damien O’Connor, a CFA volunteer with 30 years’ experience, echoed Mr Paynter’s thoughts.
“The Premier has done something he said he wouldn’t do; he’s built the East West Link, and he’s built it straight through the CFA.”
The CFA has publically said that while it supports an increase in wages for career fire fighters, the union conditions put forward in the proposed EBA are unsatisfactory.
“For me, I think we need to publically support our career fire fighters. In regards to the payment conditions, they have every right to fight for the best that they can get,” Mr O’Connor said.
“We have a now ex-minister who has now put her career on the line because she doesn’t support it.
“We have a board that has been sacked because they believe that there are problems with this EBA.
“The CEO appointed by the Premier is putting her neck on the line because she believes there is a problem.
“All these people are taking a hard stand against the Premier, and that indicates to us as volunteers that there’s a real problem with this EBA.
“What is going to happen with this deal? Are volunteers going to become so put off that we have to start shutting down some of these fire stations?” Mr O’Connor asked.
The Premier is struggling with support from his colleagues regarding the proposed Country Fire Authority workplace deal, and sacked the CFA board on Friday for refusing to back his deal with the fire fighter’s union.
Emergency Services minister Jane Garrett resigned on Friday in opposition of the proposal, which has been labelled as ‘unlawful’ by the government’s senior crown council.
An injunction regarding the EBA was put in place on Friday, June 10, which was been extended until June 22.
“This means that no EBA can be signed between now and then, and this also gives the volunteers an opportunity to have their say within the court system,” Mr Batten said.
“This plan will go on to cost the state millions and millions of dollars in the long run,” Mr Paynter added.
“There is nothing wrong with the system as it stands, and most importantly, the community is safe.”