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‘Kind words don’t pay the bills’: Hundreds of forest firefighters still waiting to be paid

Hundreds of specialist forest firefighters, including some who lost their homes to the recent bushfires, are still waiting to be paid.

The Victorian public servants who worked long overtime hours and camped out at the fire grounds during the crisis have not received the extra payments they were promised because of a bureaucratic blunder.

Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Karen Batt said there are people who lost their homes among those who have been left in the lurch.

“Many of them, the ones in Gippsland, have lost everything and they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to make ends meet,” she told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“Kind words and applause don’t pay the bills.”

Ms Batt said a lack of staffing is to blame for the delayed payment for the firefighters.

“They’d be getting overtime, additional superannuation and other allowances for camping out at the fire grounds et cetera, so there’s quite a complex set of details and computer stuff to be put in,” she said.

“There’s probably just not enough staff to do the payroll amendments and input into the computer that will allow the variations to be paid and calculated.”

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Image: Marianne Purdie / Getty

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