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Tens of millions of dollars in perks helps break CFA deadlock

Discussion in 'Melbourne | Uber Drivers Forum' started by DriverX, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. DriverX

    DriverX Active Member

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  2. Dimmi Quando

    Dimmi Quando Member

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    Tens of millions of dollars in perks helps break CFA deadlock
    February 15, 2017 12:00am
    Subscriber only
    CAREER firefighters at the CFA will be paid thousands of dollars in new and increased allowances under an extraordinary deal to bypass the stalemate over a new industrial agreement.

    All existing allowances will be jacked up 19 per cent and back-paid to August, and firefighters will get a $3000 “delayed pay increase” bonus and another 15 new allowances.

    The new benefits, worth tens of millions of dollars, have been stitched into the 2010 workplace agreement because a new deal endorsed by Premier Daniel Andrews cannot be signed under new federal legislation to protect CFA volunteers.

    Tens of millions of dollars of benefits have been stitched into the 2010 workplace agreement under a new deal endorsed by Premier Daniel Andrews Picture: Hamish Blair
    Firefighters will also get a $125 sports voucher every year and 10 per cent bonus for working outside of Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat or Bendigo.

    The perks and payments were approved by the Fair Work Commission last Friday but have not been publicly announced.

    Sources say the expensive deal can only have been part of a multi-pronged attempt to bring the festering and politically damaging dispute with the United Firefighters Union to an end.

    The UFU lodged a bid for the money two days before Christmas and then went on the warpath against the Andrews Government to secure the windfall for almost 1100 career firefighters.

    One source said the pay deal “stinks” and there was “not even a pretence of any productivity gains”.

    The source said Victoria’s teachers, who are currently preparing to strike, would be looking closely at the government’s “bizarre” industrial relations strategy.

    Instead of rolling over the existing workplace agreement with pay increases, the CFA agreed to the UFU’s demands during conciliation at the Fair Work Commission last Friday.

    It means the UFU can continue its campaign for greater control over the CFA.

    This is despite the fierce opposition of the state’s 60,000 volunteers who fear they will be sidelined.

    A CFA spokeswoman said: “We are seeking to progress the operational agreement through Fair Work.”

    Emergency Services Minister James Merlino welcomed the “positive outcome” to “adjust allowances so that firefighters are not disadvantaged by the Federal Government’s political intervention”.

    The CFA and the Andrews Government refused to reveal what the extra allowances would cost.

    Opposition emergency services spokesman Brad Battin said: “Daniel Andrews continues to divide our fire services by buying the silence of the UFU and sacrificing the rights of volunteers.”

    Opposition emergency services spokesman Brad Battin. Picture: Alex Murray
    The Herald Sun revealed the CFA and the UFU were working on the remarkable arrangement earlier this month, when union members removed campaign material from CFA stations.

    The union also cancelled a mass rally on state parliament after secretary Peter Marshall blasted the Andrews Government for its failure to resolve the agreement and deliver on its commitments.

    The new allowances include up to $5000 for firefighters involved in any court and tribunal proceedings, and extra payments for performing road accident and high angle rescues.

    All extra allowances will be back-paid to August 12 last year, when the government’s hand-picked CFA board accepted the UFU’s preferred agreement after the previous board was sacked for refusing to sign it.

    Former emergency services minister Jane Garrett, ex-CFA chief executive Lucinda Nolan and former CFA chief fire officer Joe Buffone were also forced out by Mr Andrews.

    By paying the increased allowances, the government has also bought itself time to work on a radical plan to split the fire services into paid and volunteer forces.

    The CFA’s career firefighters have received an 11.5 per cent pay increase since October 2015, with another 7.5 per cent expected to be paid under the terms of the preferred new deal. Mr Marshall did not return calls last night.
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