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MFB warns Vic about 'unworkable' pay deal

AAP logoAAP 2/08/2016 By Helen Velissaris and Melissa Meehan

Any suggestion that Melbourne firefighters won't be able to do their jobs during a terror attack because of a possible pay deal is "reckless and alarmist", the Victorian government says.

MFB chief officer Peter Rau has written to Emergency Services Minister James Merlino stating the brigade's ability to fight "rapidly evolving" security threats would be diminished if a workplace agreement similar to that proposed for the CFA was forced on his organisation.

The CFA deal - which is still being finalised - would give the United Firefighters Union increased control of operations and resourcing decisions.

Mr Rau said the current MFB agreement was already "unworkable" thanks to an existing consultation clause with the union.

He claims in the past he's been unable to deploy new trucks and appliances, or get more firefighters to work during extreme heatwaves, due to UFU obstruction.

People would be at risk if they had to wait for the union to give the OK in terror situations too, Mr Rau argues.

"In these circumstances it will not be possible or desirable to consult with union officials prior to enacting critical decisions," he writes.

But Mr Merlino on Wednesday dismissed the claims - insisting Victoria was prepared for emergencies.

"Those comments are reckless and alarmist and don't reflect the reality," he told reporters.

Mr Merlino said the real problem was a breakdown in the relationship between MFB management and the union - not consultation clauses.

The MFB is currently before the Fair Work Commission to finalise a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy believes Mr Rau has raised "legitimate concerns" and Mr Merlino's personal criticism of him is "reprehensible".

UFU boss Peter Marshall labelled the MFB chief officer's letter a publicity stunt.

"That letter is very craftily designed to cause alarm without going into the detail," Mr Marshall told ABC radio on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to block the CFA deal using the Fair Work Act once parliament resumes on August 30.

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