The Federal Court of Australia has thrown out the United Firefighters Union (UFU) claim against the Country Fire Authority (CFA) for alleged breaches of a 2010 operational staff agreement.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells welcomed the decision which will provide CFA with managerial discretion to determine its staffing levels.
“This is a convincing win for CFA and ensures staffing levels will not be dictated to by the UFU,” Mr Wells said.
Justice Murphy handed down his decision in the UFU-CFA case recently. The UFU were seeking to restrict operational decisions of the CFA. The CFA counter-claimed that the UFU’s position was invalid.
Justice Murphy ruled in favour of the CFA, finding the current Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) provisions concerning staff levels were invalid as they relate to the number and identity of staff, which could undermine the State’s capacity to govern.
“The Federal Court ruled in favour of the CFA which argued that the right to determine the number of staff it employed was a matter for the CFA and was not at the whim of the union,” Mr Wells said.
“This decision is about allowing the CFA the ability to match its resources with the demands for its services, providing CFA management with discretion to deploy services where they are needed to ensure the safety of all Victorians.
“The previous Victorian Labor Government heavily influenced the outcome of the previous enterprise bargaining agreement, which has now been proven to contain unenforceable provisions deemed to be invalid and unlawful.”
The Coalition Government’s budget for fire services is higher than in any year under Labor and increased again in the 2013-2014 budget. The CFA Budget for 2013-2014 is $446 million which is $47 million more than under the last Labor Government budget.
“Since coming to office, the Coalition Government has invested significantly in fire services providing the CFA with funding of more than $1.84 billion,” Mr Wells said.
“The Coalition Government is committed to ensuring the rights of all firefighters. We value the important work they do protecting the community from fires and other emergency situations.”