Bulletin No:      232                                   Volume:  20                      Wednesday 23 October 2014






Special General Meeting

18 November 2014

Collingwood Town Hall

The Napthine Government endorses the regressive and destructive actions of the MFB and CFA Boards towards fire service employees and firefighters and the attempts to wipe out terms and conditions of employment that had been negotiated and agreed to in good faith.

On perusal of the annual reports under the stewardship of Mick Bourke and Murray Neil Comrie, the CFA and MFB have spent approximately $21 million of public monies over the last four years on legal fees and engaging grossly expensive lawyers.

In context of the $21 million of public monies, members would be acutely aware of the regressive and dishonourable attack by Mick Bourke and the CFA Board & Murray Neil Comrie and the MFB Board against firefighter’s terms and conditions of employment under the Napthine Liberal Government.  We have also seen less than honourable behaviour by executives in both organisations as well.

Mick Bourke CFA CEO

In the case of Mr Bourke, as CEO of the CFA he signed a written agreement (CFA UFU Operational Staff Agreement 2010) on behalf of the CFA Board which was negotiated in good faith.  This is part included the requirement for:

  • an increase of 342 firefighters;
  • Minimum staffing chart to be progressively amended to include the new firefighter positions as recruited in accordance with the enterprise agreement.  

These requirements are specified in detail in clause 27 of the above said agreement.

In a very short period of time after the change to the Liberal Government Mr Bourke and the CFA Board wasted no time taking advantage of this new environment in reneging and not honouring the agreement that was negotiated in good faith.

It goes without saying that neither Mr Bourke nor the CFA have made any attempt to explain their actions or apologise to the firefighters whom they have reneged on.

There are other significant parts of the enterprise agreement, including Reserved Matters, that under Mr Bourke’s stewardship on behalf of the CFA Board they brought into question or are attempting to undo as part of a process of litigation.

Murray Neil Comrie MFB President

Murray Neil Comrie on behalf of the MFB Board has also embraced this new regressive industrial environment when the Government changed from a Labor Government to the Napthine Liberal Government.  

Members would be graphically aware of the attempt through the MFB’s application to terminate in its entirety both the Operational Staff Agreement and the Assistant Chief Fire Officers Agreement  – both which were negotiated in good faith by the parties.  

Again the MFB used exorbitant amounts of publicly funded money to engage expensive lawyers to attack firefighters wages and conditions contained within the Agreements.

Mr Comrie’s and the MFB’s actions are even more complexing and telling when you read the following statement that was contained as part of the communication to MFB Operational employees when the enterprise agreement that they seek to wipe out was signed and endorsed on behalf of the MFB Board:

“The new agreement delivers not only industrial harmony not seen here in recent years… It is a foundation for the future that heralds a new perspective on firefighting as a career”

There are many other examples of why firefighters have recently expressed their no confidence in Mr Bourke and Mr Comrie and both the MFB and CFA Board. A Bulletin will be disseminated in relation to confidence in Mr Comrie, Mr Rau, Mr Bourke and Mr Ferguson in the near future.

Most telling, there has been no apology or attempt to explain their regressive and destructive behaviour on behalf of the MFB and CFA Boards to the employees covered by the Agreements.

There is an old saying in our industry where firefighters in particular are held in the highest regard by the community that “you are as only as good as your word”.   What message does Mr Bourke and Mr Comrie’s actions send to firefighters when the most senior people in the fire services do not honour agreements but seek to obliterate agreements in effect attempting to undo what was negotiated in good faith between the parties?

This is why it is vitally important that their behaviour and that of the Boards and Executive teams of both the MFB and CFA should not go unchallenged and in fact the resulting damage and loss of faith and confidence never be allowed to be forgotten.

A Special General Meeting of UFU members will be held on the 18th November 2014 to consider this matter further in the near future.

Strength in Unity


Authorised by Peter Marshall, Branch Secretary