Australia: Victorian government blocks bid by United Firefighters Union to be involved in registration of fireys

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A controversial plan for the Victorian firefighters' union to be involved in the registration of firefighters has been blocked by the state government.

The decision by the Andrews government is likely to further inflame tensions between the United Firefighters Union (UFU) and Victorian Labor.

The UFU is already at loggerheads with the government over a decision to expand access to cancer compensation to mechanics employed by Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV). It is actively campaigning against Labor's re-election in some inner-city seats.

Earlier this year, the UFU set up the Professional Career Firefighters Registration Board. In May, it began handing out registration certificates for FRV firefighters.

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The idea behind the board was to formally recognise skills like other trades and nursing, which has been a long-term goal of the union.

But there was concern that the board was too close to the union with the chair and director of the board, former or senior UFU figures, including union president David Hamilton.

Some firefighters were privately worried the registration process would give the union power to hire and fire staff.

Concerns have also been raised about the cost of the scheme.

Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes this week told FRV it could not agree to support the registration board because of a lack of transparency and concerns over governance.

In a letter to FRV acting commissioner Martin Baird, Ms Symes said "the lack of regulatory oversight and transparency in the governance and scope of the activities" by the registration board raised "significant public interest risks".

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She also raised concerns that the board may be used to stop firefighters working for FRV.

"It would be inappropriate for a body that sits outside the public sector to maintain a register of FRV employees in circumstances where the register might be used to limit the manner in which FRV exercises its power of employment,'' Ms Symes wrote.

But the state government is supportive of some form of registration board.

Legislation passed by parliament includes provision for a registration board but includes government appointed directors.

The UFU have already taken action at the Fair Work Commission to try and establish a registration board.

The ABC sought comment from FRV.

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