Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Robert Clark
The measures the government has announced today on the CFA dispute amount to little more than politely asking Peter Marshall and the UFU to be nice once they’ve been given all the powers over the CFA that they’ve demanded.
The only change the government claim will be made to the EBA itself is “inserting clauses into the Agreement that clearly specify that the role of volunteers and the services they provide are not altered by the Agreement”.
However, those clauses will have no effect on the UFU’s powers of control over the CFA, because nothing in an EBA can alter the “role” of a volunteer in the first place. Instead, what the EBA will do is restrict how the volunteers can perform their role and what the CFA can do to support them, and the government’s clauses will provide no protection against that.
All the other “fixes” announced today are outside of the EBA – either “a statement of joint intent” or a “commitment from the parties”.
However, a “statement of joint intent” or “commitment” has no legal force when up against with the terms of an EBA. As Daniel Andrews would say, “it’s not worth the paper it’s written on”.
Once the EBA has been signed and approved by the Fair Work Commission, there’s nothing anybody will be able to do about it if Peter Marshall and the UFU ignore or breach their “statements of intent” or “commitment”.
In other words, the measures as outlined in the media release will have zero effect on “the enforceability of key aspects of the Agreement”.
To make matters worse, the commitment the government says it will seek from “the parties” that “agreement will not be unreasonably withheld” on matters which require consultation in fact is an admission that the so-called “consultation clause” amounts to a veto.
If “consultation” does not amount to a veto, why is Premier Andrews now asking that agreement cannot be unreasonably withheld? And since the media release says this is nothing more than a “commitment” outside of the EBA, there’s nothing that can be done about it even if the UFU does unreasonably withhold agreement.
Furthermore, today’s announcement confirms that Emergency Services Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, has been left powerless other than to plead with Peter Marshall for cooperation and to tell the world through six and 12 month reports what’s happened or not happened about implementation of the Agreement.
In short, nothing in today’s announcement alters Daniel Andrews’ disgraceful sell-out of the CFA, its 60,000 volunteers and communities across Victoria into the hands of the UFU.
Media contact: James Duncan 0457 758 018 email@example.com