In March, the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) received a secret report from anti-union law firm Seyfarth Shaw Australia giving advice on how to attack the United Firefighters Union (UFU).
According to a Fairfax Media article summarising the leaked report, it recommended hiring firefighters on "individual and/or non-union contracts". It also recommended reducing union officials' right of entry into CFA workplaces.
The report also recommended that management carry out a propaganda campaign (described as "mythbusting") against the union.
Since the report was prepared, the board of the CFA has been sacked by the Victorian Labor government and CEO Lucinda Nolan has resigned.
However, firefighters are still under attack. The federal government has introduced a new law into parliament to prevent the proposed enterprise agreement covering firefighters employed by the CFA from being implemented.
Opponents of the agreement object to clauses specifying minimum staffing levels and safe working procedures, as well as clauses requiring management to consult with the union over a range of issues. According to Nolan, these clauses would hamper the CFA's ability to make strong decisions.
UFU national secretary Peter Marshall said the leaked report had revealed a "union-busting" agenda within the CFA.
"There was obviously a clear agenda to not bargain in good faith, to not enter into an enterprise agreement, not to resolve the dispute but to go down a very anti-union, union-busting campaigning by a law firm that's known to do this to firefighting unions in America," he said.
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