It is no surprise that CFA volunteers feel left in the lurch this summer. With the enforcement of fire restrictions starting on December 12, there is still no Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) in place to ensure volunteers will be fairly treated and represented.
So much has been said this year about the controversial EBA, but Victoria’s 60,000 volunteer firefighters just want to see the CFA sign a deal that doesn’t stop them from supporting their regional communities, just as they have for more than 100 years.
With the militant United Firefighters Union (UFU) now delaying the vote until possibly next year for fear of it being rejected, there is an uncertainty over the role of volunteers, their relationship with members of the UFU and their future with the CFA over the coming months and years.
Regional communities need to know who will be protecting the protectors this fire season. Many expect it to be one of the worst seasons on record, due to the high grass growth resulting from good spring rains, so we must be prepared accordingly.
Given there has been no resolution with the EBA and the government has not been able to meet preventative burning targets, the Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino needs to consider and explain the impact this unresolved dispute will have on CFA volunteers this summer.