Chris Slee

GLW author Chris Slee

Senate inquiry: Firefighters challenge anti-union law

Both professional and volunteer firefighters have spoken against the federal government's proposed new law aimed at blocking the implementation of the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) enterprise agreement.

Sri Lanka: Tamils demand return of occupied land


Tamils protest on August 3 against Sri Lankan navy land grabs in Mullivaikkal.

Tamils who had been protesting outside a military cantonment in a suburb of Kilinochchi began a hunger strike on September 7.

Forum on legal aspects of refugee policy

An Australian lawyer who lodged a submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2014 calling for an investigation of Australian detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, told a Refugee Action Collective (RAC) forum in Melbourne on September 5 that the release of the Nauru files has improved the chances of action being taken.

Secret CFA anti-union report exposed

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.

Anti-deportation protester found guilty

More than 60 people took part in a vigil outside the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on September 2 to support Jasmine Pilbrow who was found guilty of “interference with a crew member of an aircraft”.

In February last year, Pilbrow refused to take her seat on a Qantas aircraft in which a Tamil asylum seeker was being taken to Darwin before being deported to Sri Lanka.

Melanie Brown told the gathering her friend had peacefully explained to others on the plane her reasons for taking the action. Two other people then also stood up.

Government unveils anti-firefighter law

The federal government has published a proposed law to restrict the rights of firefighters and other emergency service workers.

The new law will amend the Fair Work Act to ban enterprise agreements covering workers employed by a “designated emergency management body” from containing “objectionable” terms — including requirements for management to consult with the relevant union.

Firefighters rally over toxic chemicals

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.

United Firefighters Union commissions harassment survey

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.

Rally for sacked CUB workers

About 250 people attended a rally on August 4 in solidarity with 55 sacked maintenance workers who had been employed at the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) plant in Abbotsford.

The workers, members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, were sacked on June 10. They were told they could re-apply for their jobs with a new contracting company, but that their pay would be cut by 65%.

The rally, held outside the CUB brewery, was attended by members and officials from a wide range of unions.

Firefighters vote on agreements

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.

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