CFA vol­un­teer body with­draws Supreme Court ac­tion

Mansfield Courier - - HIGH COUNTRY FESTIVAL - By DAVID MIMS

THE body rep­re­sent­ing CFA vol­un­teers, Vol­un­teer Fire Brigades Vic­to­ria (VFBV), last week an­nounced they were ceas­ing their Supreme Court ac­tion over the cur­rent En­ter­prise Bar­gain­ing Agree­ment (EBA) with the CFA.

The EBA will now be put to a vote of ca­reer fire­fight­ers for ap­proval, and then be sub­mit­ted to the Fair Work Com­mis­sion for ap­proval.

In a press re­lease from the VFBV, stat­ing the rea­sons for with­drawal of the state Supreme Court ac­tion, it said, in part: “VFBV has suc­cess­fully cam­paigned for and achieved a change to the Fed­eral Fair Work Act that pro­tects vol­un­teers and en­sures the vol­un­teer na­ture of CFA can­not be un­der­mined by an En­ter­prise Bar­gain­ing Agree­ment be­tween CFA and the UFU.

“The changes to the Fair Work Act ap­ply to the cur­rent EBA ne­go­ti­a­tions and also all fu­ture CFA EBAs.

“The change to the fed­eral laws (Fair Work Act) now achieves what VFBV have been seek­ing from the Vic­to­rian Supreme Court.”

In drop­ping the ac­tion, the VFBV said they will con­tinue to mon­i­tor on­go­ing de­vel­op­ments, and did not rule out fu­ture ac­tions at a fed­eral level, de­pend­ing on how things progress.

Mary Anne Egan, from VFBV Dis­trict 23 Coun­cil who rep­re­sents the vol­un­teers from the North East area, ex­plained the ra­tio­nale for this de­ci­sion.

“VFBV sought the Vic­to­rian Supreme Court ac­tion be­cause of the im­pact the EBA would have on vol­un­teers,” she said. “It was the only op­tion avail­able at that time. “How­ever, just as a change of wind di­rec­tion on the fire-ground can turn a flank at­tack to a head at­tack of a fire, re­quir­ing fire­fight­ers to change their tac­tics, VFBV has moved from the state based ac­tion to the fed­eral arena with the pass­ing of the amend­ment to the Fair Work Act.

“The fed­eral Fair Work Act Amend­ment (Re­spect for Emer­gency Ser­vices Vol­un­teers) Bill was passed into law on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 10 by the Par­lia­ment of Aus­tralia and signed off by the Gover­nor Gen­eral.

“By win­ning the pro­tec­tion of the fed­eral leg­isla­tive change, we have de­liv­ered on our prom­ise to en­sure im­pacts on vol­un­teers are deemed un­law­ful.

“There­fore, we have been able to dis­con­tinue our Vic­to­rian Court ac­tion.”

She went on to say: “This land­mark de­ci­sion will pro­tect vol­un­teers; the changes will make it un­law­ful for clauses in an EBA to in­ter­fere with an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s abil­ity to man­age its vol­un­teers.

“It will ren­der il­le­gal clauses which have the ef­fect of lim­it­ing the role, op­er­a­tions and sup­port of emer­gency ser­vices vol­un­teers.

“It means that we will have a place at the Fair Work Com­mis­sion and we will turn our at­ten­tion to prepa­ra­tions for this.

“It’s most wel­com­ing to note that this fed­eral law ap­plies to the cur­rent CFA EBA ne­go­ti­a­tions and to all fu­ture CFA EBAs.

“Should we need it, we will wel­come the as­sis­tance of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and their lawyers.”

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