MFB Acting CEO Russell Eddington said the current agreements, which expired in September 2013, contained unlawful content that makes them unworkable.
“These clauses mean we can’t deploy resources to best meet changing emergency conditions and we can’t recruit externally,” Mr Eddington said.
“After 12 months of bargaining with the union we are still far apart and it has become clear that we are unable to negotiate around these unlawful clauses,” he said.
“Recent court cases regarding the CFA and Parks Victoria, have supported MFB’s position that clauses in the current award are unlawful.
Mr Eddington said that if successful in terminating the current agreements, the MFB would maintain firefighters’ current pay, core entitlements and general operational framework.
However, he said terminating the agreements would allow the organisation to revert to the consultation requirements under the firefighters Modern Award rather than the arduous and impractical requirements currently in place.
“We have been forced to go to the Fair Work Commission just to move a fire truck from one station to the other. At the Hazelwood mine fire we had to bring in firefighters from South Australia just to be able to use our own advanced equipment because we haven’t reached agreement with the union to commission this vehicle.
“These are management decisions and it seriously detracts from the efficiency of this rate-payer funded service when we have senior management tied up in the Fair Work Commission for weeks simply to implement decisions that ensures the community is best served,” Mr Eddington said.
“The MFB has had a proposal on the table since April last year that maintains core entitlements, such as 10/14 rostering, rest and recline, and annual leave. It offers pay rises resulting in firefighters being among the highest paid in the country and is designed to modernise the service and position it for a future of ever-increasing collaboration with other emergency services across the State,” he said.
“Our firefighters are dedicated, professional people who do a remarkable job for our State and we need progressive enterprise agreements to build our organisation for them, as well as the community.
“Today is not about the current bargaining process, it is about asking the Fair Work Commission to relieve us of an outdated and unworkable agreement that limits the MFB’s potential to grow and develop.”
The MFB expects the Fair Work Commission to set a hearing date within six weeks.