Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VBFB), the Victorian peer of the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades WA, has demonstrated the need for volunteers to have a representative body independent of government control.

The VBFB took the battle over the union imposed workplace agreement to the Courts after the State Government sacked the former Country Fire Authority Board (CFA) for refusing to bow to union demands.

Upon the sacking of the Board, the Victorian Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades were left with only one organisation that could fight for them, and that was the Volunteers’ Association that is not under government control.

It is a reminder that any organisation that is ultimately under government control can be sacked or dismantled if it gets in the way of the government’s agenda, or in this case, the union’s agenda. That is a powerful reason for volunteers to have, and support, their own independent representative Association.

Read about the latest development in the Victorian CFA dispute in the following abstracts from an article published on ABC News web site on 16th August.

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“CFA dispute: Victorian volunteer firefighters win bid to halt workplace deal vote”

Victorian volunteer firefighters have won a bid to delay a vote on a controversial Country Fire Authority (CFA) workplace agreement.

A Victorian Supreme Court judge has agreed to send the bitter dispute to trial next month and accepted an undertaking by the CFA an agreement would not be endorsed until courts decided if it was lawful.

In his decision, Justice Michael McDonald said a trial was the only means the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) would have to legally test its concerns.

After a long-running industrial dispute, the CFA board last week approved an amended EBA deal which still needs to be voted on by career firefighters.

The CFA said on Wednesday it would defer the vote until the outcome of Supreme Court action was determined.

The VFBV had sought an injunction to stop the CFA from moving ahead with the deal.

VFBV chief executive Andrew Ford said the court’s decision to send the case to trial was a positive step.

“We think it’s a fair decision,” he said.

“This issue will now be dealt with where it should be dealt with: in a fair and transparent process through the Supreme Court.

“I absolutely think this sends a strong message for all those people who have been saying this has been a story made up by volunteers, made up by VFVB, that we’ve now had a court decision that clearly shows there are issues to be heard here.”

In court, the VFBV contended the dispute had caused a problem in volunteer morale and would “inevitably reduce volunteer numbers and put the community’s safety at risk” as the summer fire season approached.

The court heard that in 2,000 responses to a CFA volunteer survey, there had been a “significant reduction” in member satisfaction.

The industrial dispute surrounding Victoria’s Country Fire Authority has dragged on for more than 1,200 days.

“This [workplace agreement] is directly inconsistent with the powers of the [CFA] chief fire officer and in effect subjects the chief officer to the power of veto at the hands of the UFU [United Firefighters Union],” Stuart Wood QC, representing the VFBV, said.

The trial will be heard on September 22.

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Read the full article at

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-17/volunteer-firefighters-win-bid-to-halt-cfa-workplace-deal-vote/7751714

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