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Volunteers will walk if union deal is pushed through

Volunteer firefighters will turn their backs on the CFA if a controversial deal with the powerful firefighters’ union is rammed through by the state government, the head of the volunteer firefighters’ association has warned.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria chief executive Andrew Ford told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry the government backed deal between the United Firefighters Union and the CFA would see an “irreversible loss” of volunteers and put summer safety at risk.

The volunteer brigade, despite court brokered consultation with the 2017 Adidas Nmd New Arrived S80207 R1 J Unisex White Blue Australia Shop CFA board, maintains the proposed workplace agreement would destroy the role of volunteers by handing too much control to the union.

United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall, and its president Dave Hamilton, were due to address the inquiry on Tuesday morning but at 5pm Monday the union told the committee they would not be appearing due to sickness.

The Ageunderstands that the union addressed the CFA board on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, legal advice has suggested that thepushfor greater equality and diversity in an organisation with just 3 per cent female employeeswould be stymied.

But Mr Ford also made it clear that the organisation was opposed to the Labor government’s policy to recruit 350 extra career firefighters, saying opening new brigades with paid staff would not be an effective use of money as it would divert funds away Buy Air Jordan 4 Retro Dunk From Above 308497-425 Men Dark Blue Yellow Australia community education and fire preparedness.

Asked if the government backed union agreement would diminish community safety, Mr Ford said it could damage the state’s firefighting capacity and preparedness, with the potential for more damage to “more life or more property”.

The state’s nearly 60,000 CFA volunteers provide local services and are critical when major fires break out because they provide surge capacity.

Since Ms Garrett quit, 2017 Adidas Nmd New Arrived S80207 R1 J Unisex White Blue Australia Shop the Andrews government has tried to appease volunteer concerns about the EBA, including inserting provisions into the lengthy workplace agreement that state volunteers would not be affected.

But Mr Ford says it was “not correct” that volunteers would be protected.

Interim CFA chief executive Frances Diver said the “CFA continues to consult widely with all stakeholders on the proposed firefighters enterprise agreement”.

Sacked CFA board member JohnPeberdyis due to give evidence on Wednesday and former chief officer JoeBuffoneis likely to be subpoenaed to appear in coming weeks.

The pay dispute has been dragging on for more than 1200 days, and last week Emergency Services Minister JamesMerlinotold theSunday Agethat it was still”weeks” away from being resolved.

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