The changes to Victoria’s firefighting services announced by Premier Andrews today will allow firefighter union bosses to obtain greater control and veto powers not just over the CFA, but over Victoria’s entire combined paid firefighting service.
Under these changes, the government proposes to move all of the CFA’s paid firefighters to a new organisation that will also include all the paid firefighters from Melbourne’s fire service, the MFB, leaving the CFA with only volunteer firefighters.
This break-up of the CFA opens the way for the CFA and its volunteers to be gradually downgraded and marginalised as Mr Andrews gives the paid firefighting service more and more responsibilities as well as the bulk of any future new funding.
To make matters even worse, because paid firefighters will still be working alongside volunteers even though they will be employed by a separate fire service, United Firefighters Union secretary, Peter Marshall, will still be able to seek to impose restrictions and vetoes affecting volunteers through making allegations about impacts on paid firefighters.
Mr Marshall’s demands for veto powers affecting CFA volunteers was what led to this dispute in the first place, and simply shifting paid firefighters to a separate employer won’t end those demands.