Staff Mistreatment

MFB Corporate and Technical Staff have been negotiating conditions of employment with the MFB/Government for over 2 years, and after having recently reached agreement, the MFB/Government have now refused to honour their commitments.

According to research conducted for the MFB by Mercer, the MFB workers are in the bottom 25 per cent of wage-earners doing similar work.

Can the MFB truly value its Corporate and Technical staff if it refuses to honour their enterprise agreement?

MFB Corporate and Technical Staff work in areas including fire prevention, research and education, supporting front-line firefighters and minimising the community’s human, property and financial losses.

The parties have been negotiating since 2011 and finally reached agreement on all clauses in January 2013.

In January the MFB committed that the settlement constituted:

  • complete resolution with respect to ‘in principle’ agreement and the MFB would not raise any further requirements, and
  • that they shall seek that the Enterprise Agreement voting process is ready to commence to the formal vote process under the Fair Work Act 2009 within 3 weeks.

The MFB wrote to the UFU on 25 January with the final agreement attached stating:

“This now concludes all negotiation and drafting associated with this agreement.”

Unfortunately the MFB then sat on the agreement forcing the MFB Corporate and Technical Staff to take the matter back to the Fair Work Commission to seek assistance.

Three months later, in April this year, the Government and the MFB told the workers that they would not honour the agreement which had been reached.

It is the UFU view that this action is a breach of good faith bargaining and lacks integrity and transparency. Corporate and Technical Staff are fed up with this treatment and a perceived lack of respect.

The workers have been advised that it is the Government and MFB positions that some of the clauses regarding contractors, temporary staff, part time staff and casuals which have already been agreed, must now be removed. The clauses generally relate to consultation regarding replacing ongoing staff with Contractors, job security, use of temporary staff etc. The Government wants the workers to simply remove these fundamental protections from the agreement they already made.

It’s like settling on a price for a new car, only for the dealer to tell you – “by the way we’ll be removing the heating system and wheels before you pick it up.”

Worse, several of the clauses which the Government and the MFB has taken issue with where part of the MFB’s own offers as approved by the same Government only weeks earlier and some provisions had been agreed over a year ago!

The MFB refer to a recent Parks Victoria Enterprise Agreement decision, but that decision deals with an entirely different situation which doesn’t apply as the MFB is a constitutional corporation.

Recent MFB Corporate and Technical staff meeting.

Further, the MFB has also raised another case, re AEU, however that case doesn’t apply in this situation either. The matters we are talking about are simply agreed matters and are permitted matters under the Fair Work Act.

The MFB and Napthine Government is simply treating these emergency service workers different to other public sector employees and trying to wear them down to remove protections from their agreement.

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