Firefighters rallied outside state parliament house on August 16 to demand greater support for the victims of toxic contamination at the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) former Fiskville training facility. Fiskville was closed down in 2015, but a state parliamentary enquiry found that CFA management had known about the contamination since 2010 and allowed training to continue there. The chemicals have been linked to a rise in the number of incidences of cancer and other diseases among firefighters who trained there.
Country Fire Authority
The United Firefighters Union (UFU) has commissioned a survey of bullying, harassment and discrimination within Victoria's Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA). The survey is being conducted by researchers from the University of Newcastle. Meanwhile, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) is carrying out a survey commissioned by MFB and CFA management. The UFU has advised its members not to participate in the VEOHRC survey.
Mass meetings of members of the United Firefighters Union (UFU) on July 26 voted to endorse in principle two proposed enterprise agreements negotiated with the Victorian state government. One agreement covers workers employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), while the other covers the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The two agreements provide for pay rises and cover a wide range of other issues including rostering, staffing levels and occupational health and safety.
United Firefighters Union (UFU) members handed out leaflets at polling booths in Victorian marginal seats on election day, in an attempt to counter a Liberal scare campaign against a new enterprise agreement for UFU members employed by the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The Liberals falsely claim that the agreement gives the UFU the power of veto over CFA management decisions, and that it would prevent volunteer firefighters from fighting fires unless seven professional firefighters were present. They claim that the agreement endangers public safety.
The Victorian Environment Protection Authority is expected to file 12 air pollution charges against the Hazelwood power station operator, GDF Suez, over the Morwell coalmine fire. The fire burned for 45 days in 2014, covering Morwell in smoke and ash. Residents were advised to leave by health authorities. An inquiry found GDF Suez had failed to adequately prepare for the fire, which was sparked by a nearby bushfire, and that the fire probably contributed to increased deaths in the region.
Victoria's firefighters union has rejected a pay rise from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) because it says the offer compromises safety conditions. The CFA offered workers a 19% pay rise over six years, but the United Firefighters Union said 350 promised positions had been removed from the agreement. Union secretary Peter Marshall said: "These... new positions weren't arbitrary, they were … for locations that do not have enough firefighters.
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