The Report and Recommendations are not binding, but the NZPFU believes the report sets out a pathway founded on solid principles for the settlement of the collective agreement. The Report largely focuses on firefighters and does not address all claims which will still have to be addressed through bargaining.
The Report acknowledges fundamental issues that are central to the NZPFU claims including safe staffing, health and wellbeing support and protections, genuine and early involvement in consultation and the need to address the significantly low wages.
The Report also recognises that the Recommendations will require significant increase in the budget or funding that FENZ was prepared to attribute to the NZPFU negotiations, and may require other funding. This may mean that the Government has to provide some specific support. The NZPFU has already met with the Minister Jan Tinetti to discuss this report and its implications, including the possibility of Government assistance being required.
Key findings include:
- Health and wellbeing issues need to be addressed promptly and seriously
- The staffing levels are too low resulting in significant overtime. FENZ has not been recruiting sufficiently and now has the chance to honour its “solemn commitment” to recruit more firefighters and 111 emergency call centre staff
- Firefighters are significantly underpaid and their base remuneration needs to increase significantly to align it more closely with other comparative firefighting roles and other FENZ staff
- There is an inequity issue between NZPFU members and other FENZ staff
- NZPFU members should be involved in early, genuine and detailed consultations leading to FENZ decisions including health, safety and wellbeing of “its greatest asset, its people”.
Key recommendations include:
- Health and wellbeing programmes and support including blood screening programme (for early detection of occupational cancer)
- Income protection and medical insurance for NZPFU members
- Financial recognition of medical response
- Remuneration financial envelope of 3.5% (2021-2022), 7.5% (2022-2023) and 6.5% (2023-2024)
- Backdating of wage and allowance increases
- $1500 sign on bonus
- Working parties on key issues with a right to final-offer arbitration for enforcement
What happens next?
FENZ and the NZPFU meet for bargaining on the 27th October 2022. This is the first meeting since the receipt of the Report.
Members will be kept informed of progress and developments.