NOBODY will argue firefighters deserve respect and admiration, but a pay deal for Victorian fireys including a whopping 99 days sick leave has been roundly criticised.

The latest to get in on the action were talkback radio hosts from Sydney and Melbourne who called it "completely over the top" on Wednesday.

"None of us would want to be a firefighter," 2GB's Alan Jones told Sunrise, praising those who go to work every day and put their lives on the line for the community.

"That said, the notion of having a 19 per cent payrise and 196 days leave - for God's sake, it suggests they aren't working at all ... this is completely over the top."

It was revealed earlier this week that Victorian taxpayers will fork out $150 million for the deal that includes almost 200 days personal and other leave a year, a $1200 second language allowance and an "availability allowance" for commanders worth 5.5 per cent of their salary.

Firefighters who have been on the job for more than two years will be eligible for 99 days of personal and sick leave a year, on top of 65 days' annual leave.

Firefighters could take almost 200 days leave a year.
Firefighters could take almost 200 days leave a year.

 

The agreement also included provisions for 10 days of community service leave and five days of union training, which alongside the state's 13 public holidays added up to 196 days.

State Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said on Tuesday the agreement cost was "in the order of $150 million and that's fully accounted for in the budget".

"If you're in a burning home and you've got a firefighter bashing through the door to save you and your children, do you think you care what they're paid or what allowances they receive?" he said.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy called the deal a "stinking, rorting mess". He repeated his pledge for a royal commission into the fire services if the coalition wins government in November.

Jones told Sunrise "the concern is that ambulance workers who do tremendous work and others will get in the queue".

"It's a critical issue because the government is broke and it can't afford this sort of pay."

Justin Smith from 3AW told Sunrise "this could actually create a bit of a backlash towards (firefighters) that they don't deserve".

"Daniels Andrews said, 'you can't pay them enough' and that's a terrific thought but that is absolutely not sustainable. Police will line up, the ambulance (workers) will line up, nurses will line up, the teachers will line up. Why wouldn't you?"

The MFB has been without a new employment agreement since the old one lapsed in September 2013.

The saga involving the MFB and CFA pay deals saw former emergency service minister Jane Garrett resign in 2016 and a succession of fire service executives quit.

 

- with AAP



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