O'Brien calls on Labor to stand up for CFA volunteers

The Nationals candidate for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien has called on the Labor Party to reject the United Firefighters Union’s (UFU) attempted takeover of the CFA.

Mr O’Brien said the union, led by the militant Peter Marshall, was asking for a 30 per cent pay rise over three years amid a raft of pay and condition claims, as well as “consultative committees” with veto rights which would hobble CFA management’s ability to run the organisation.

He said these demands were outrageous, would cost the CFA more than $1.6 billion over the next three years and would ultimately come at the expense of the more than 60,000 dedicated CFA volunteers.

“This latest claim by Peter Marshall and the UFU is nothing more than an attempted takeover of the CFA, similar to what has happened with the Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB) where the UFU has been allowed to run rampant,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The CFA’s hardworking volunteers will not receive any of the generous benefits the union is seeking for its paid members, yet our volunteers give their time for free.

“The UFU is demanding money the state government does not have and the only way Daniel Andrews and his Labor mates can pay for these claims is by slashing the CFA’s budget or cutting funding for roads, schools and hospitals.”

Mr O’Brien said Labor should not allow itself to be bullied by the unions.

“We know the UFU worked hand in hand with Daniel Andrews during the November State Election, doorknocking on his behalf, manning polling booths on his behalf and campaigning on his behalf, but is this really worth $1.6 billion?” Mr O’Brien asked.

“As a newly signed-up CFA volunteer, I know the hard work our dedicated volunteers put in to ensure we are protected from fire.

“I urge Daniel Andrews to consider the 60,000 dedicated CFA volunteers who will receive no benefit from the union claim.”

Mr O’Brien said Victorians only needed to look at the MFB to see what can happen when the UFU takes control.

“The UFU got its claws into the MFB and now we have the ridiculous situation where they demand two trucks be sent to put out a bin fire,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Our volunteers should not be forced to play these silly games, they should be supported to do the job they do so very well and that is put out the fires.”

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