Fairness for DELWP Forest FireFighters
After more than 12 months of negotiations, tomorrow (12 February) Fair Work Commission President Iain Ross will make a last ditch attempt to settle a new Enterprise Agreement for DELWP forest firefighters before referring the matter to arbitration.
Australian Workers’ Union Victorian Secretary Ben Davis said negotiations had stalled around a number of issues, but primarily, the Victorian Government’s refusal to recognise forest firefighters as emergency service workers.
“Forest firefighters consistently face danger and are forced to make split-second life and death decisions as they confront extreme conditions that are unimaginable to most of us,” Mr Davis said.
“The fact that these heroes in green overalls work deep in the bush means it has been easy for governments to treat them as out of sight and out of mind. It is not fair, it is not right and it should not continue.”
Recognition as emergency service workers would bring them into line with other emergency workers with whom they often work shoulder to shoulder on fires, in floods, on search and rescue operations and as they deal with a range of threats to the public estate and the community.
“Being acknowledged for what they do would give them the respect they are due, which is the very least they deserve,” Mr Davis said.
“While the people who are refusing them recognition were enjoying Christmas lunch with their families, and bringing in the New Year, too many of our members were out fighting fires, far from the comforts of home.”
Those who would like to know more about their role can read some of their stories at the Fairness for Forest Firefighters Facebook page.
“It is time we brought these men and women out of the shadows and gave them a deal which is commensurate with their commitment and the risks they take,” Mr Davis said.