Vic firies finally strike workplace deal

A workplace deal covering the Metropolitan Fire Brigade has finally been given a green light.
A workplace deal covering the Metropolitan Fire Brigade has finally been given a green light.

Victoria's workplace watchdog has sidelined concerns about a new pay and conditions deal for the state's firefighters, ending protracted bargaining.

But the agreement, inked on Monday, has taken so long to finalise that it will be due for revision again in just five months.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade has been at loggerheads with the United Firefighters' Union for years, with disputes about issues including discrimination against part-time workers.

Fair Work Commission Deputy President Val Gostencnik found the deal does not include any discriminatory or objectionable terms and ordered that it come into effect from next Monday, with an expiry date of July 1.

It covers more than 2000 firefighters.

The MFB deal has dragged on for years but was agreed to between the brigade and its firefighters in early 2018 before being referred to the commission for approval.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission previously complained the deal contained discriminatory terms that prohibit or restrict part-time work for operational firefighters.

"These terms are unfair and unfavourable towards employees that seek to work part time, including women, parents, people with a disability and carers," commissioner Kristen Hilton said.

The MFB has been without a new agreement since 2013.

As negotiations continued, there was a revolving door at the brigade with many shifts in senior personnel.

Chief executive Jim Higgins and acting chief officer Paul Stacchino both quit in 2017.

Chief officer Peter Rau, chief executive Lucinda Nolan, chief fire officer Joe Buffone and chief officer David Youssef resigned in 2016.

The state government welcomed news of the deal.

"I am pleased this enterprise agreement is finalised and that MFB's firefighters can get on with the job of keeping Victorians safe," Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said.

"Our firefighters put their lives on the line to keep Victorians safe, so it's important their pay and conditions are commensurate with the vital service they provide."

The Labor government is expected to pick up its fire industry reforms that failed to pass parliament last term.

Australian Associated Press