Concerns Vic fire deal 'discriminatory'

Kaitlyn Offer

A controversial pay deal for Melbourne's firefighters is discriminatory against parents, women and people with disabilities, the state's human rights commissioner says.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is listed to appear in the Fair Work Commission on Thursday in an application to intervene against the Metropolitan Fire Brigade enterprise agreement.

"VEOHRC is concerned that the Operational Agreement contains discriminatory terms that prohibit or restrict part-time work for operational firefighters within the Metropolitan Fire Brigade," Commissioner Kristen Hilton said in a statement on Wednesday.

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

Ms Hilton said the agreement appears to "unfairly limit both men and women's choices about their roles in parenting and family life and will actively undermine women's participation in Victoria's operational fire services."

Her office has the power, with the permission of the Fair Work Commission, to intervene in matters involving issues of equality of opportunity, discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation.

She first sought leave to intervene on Tuesday but the matter was adjourned until Thursday afternoon.

The MFB deal has dragged on for years but was recently agreed to between the brigade and its firefighters and is awaiting Fair Work approval.

VEOHRC has also been completing a review of the MFB and the CFA but its release has been held up by legal challenges by the United Firefighters Union.

The Supreme Court threw out the union's challenge, but it has decided to appeal that decision.

Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said firefighters deserved the security of an enterprise agreement.

"We have always said the Fair Work Commission is the appropriate forum for these matters," he said in a statement.

"The Commission will examine each and every clause of the agreement and I look forward to this matter being resolved."

The UFU has been contacted for comment.