- By Cindy O’Connor
Austerity – Australian style
Over 1000 firefighters marched to Parliament this week in Melbourne. Just two years ago one of the worst bush fires in Australia ravaged regional Victoria. Some of these fires were just an hour away from Melbourne. The newly elected State government just announced $66 Million worth of cuts to Fire Services.
Austerity programs aren’t officially happening here but really it’s austerity by stealth. These cuts mean that firefighters will be issued second hand uniforms. No new recruits will be taken on. Training will be scaled back. Firefighters are workers who need the best equipment, uniforms and training. The hazards they are exposed to can cause death, illness and injury.
There are two fire services. Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) serves and protects cities and suburbs. MFB personnel are career firefighters and their union is UFU lead by Peter Marshall. Country Fire Authority (CFA) serve and protect regional areas. CFA is a mix of career and volunteer firefighters. Both services marched to protest against the cuts. The Commander of CFA issued a directive banning CFA crew from joining the protest. The collective response was that everyone wore stickers with the name Ferguson over their own name. So far no-one has been disciplined for protesting.
Our question to State Premier Ted Baillieu is this: Who will protect you when your house is on fire? A well resourced, trained, full complement of firefighters? Or a struggling crew with not enough training, second hand gear and not enough personnel?
Please show solidarity by joining these Facebook groups:
Here is a link to an event page set up by AMWU official Darren Hanisch who is also a volunteer firefighter with CFA.
As we chanted at Parliament:
What do we want? Safer communities!
When do want them? Now!
No ifs, no buts, no fire service cuts!
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