ABOUT 240 firefighters are battling for an alleged $3 million in overtime pay for laboring against fires at the Hazelwood coalmine.

The mine caught fire on February 9 and burned for 45 days. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade deployed staff to join efforts to douse the burning open-pit mine. Some firefighters worked 65-hour weeks. Now, the United Firefighters Union of Australia is taking the MFB to the Federal Court to get those firefighters paid. The MFB told the Herald Sun it did not have automated attendance records for staff at the mine. That was the reason for not yet paying many workers what they are owed in double-time payments. Union boss Peter Marshall said it was outrageous that the MFB had not paid its staff. Reliable sources within the MFB had told Mr Marshall the overtime bill now topped $3 million. The UFUA’s statement of claim to the Federal Circuit Court lists 14 firefighters who have not been paid for 438 hours, but Mr Marshall said those men were a fraction of the about 240 MFB staff owed overtime.The firefighters’ staff agreement states overtime must be paid in a timely manner. But MFB acting deputy chief officer David Bruce said the summer fire season caused a large number of staff to be deployed outside the Melbourne metropolitan area — mainly to Hazelwood and Stawell in the Grampians, where a bushfire raged in January. The process of capturing such attendance is currently not automated and consequently due to the size and nature of this incident it has taken considerable time and effort to recognise and verify attendance records, he said. He said all staff would be paid their entitlements.