Today the NZPFU gave notice of national one-hour strikes from 11am to noon on the 2nd and the 9th September 2022.
Last night the NZPFU NCOM made the decision to issue further notices of strike action taking into consideration FENZ deciding there was no point meeting this week to try and work through the unresolved issues. The bargaining dispute cannot be resolved unless both parties are in the room working on finding a way forward.
The parties last met in mediation last week where the NZPFU tabled a revised set of claims which included the removal of some claims, reducing some claims and re-working others in a bid to make progress towards a resolution. A week later FENZ had not provided a response to the revised position and has stated it has yet to complete a financial analysis of the revised claims.
Tomorrow (Friday the 19th August) all NZPFU members covered by the bargaining will walk off the job for an hour. The gravity of tomorrow’s stoppage was not enough for FENZ to have any sense of urgency to get back to the table to try and resolve the bargaining dispute. FENZ says it has a contingency plan but haven’t detailed what those contingencies are.
FENZ is in crisis with trucks off the run and stations closing and the 111 emergency call centre running on dangerously low staffing levels on a regular basis due to FENZ’s failure to employ sufficient staff to maintain minimum staffing requirements. The firefighting fleet is almost on life support itself with trucks breaking down to and from incidents on a daily basis around the country. Just last night the ability of firefighters to attack a blazing inferno in Christchurch was dangerously compromised with the first fire truck and the main aerial appliance breaking down on site. An aerial from the airport was required in order to bring the blaze under control. Under extreme heat and pressure the firefighters were eventually able to contain the fire and prevent its spread to neighbouring properties.
Firefighters need to have confidence in their resourcing to undertake their inherently dangerous work of protecting the public. Currently they are relying on exhausted crews who are working extraordinary levels of overtime to keep trucks on the run only to have those trucks fail at critical times. This is not a battle focused on wages.
This is a fight for safe systems of work including appropriate levels of staffing and reliable trucks and equipment needed to protect the community, and to implement necessary safety, health and wellbeing measures. FENZ cannot be left to manage the fire service into the ground.
The hour-long strike 11am to noon will occur across all 19 locations of career firefighters and other NZPFU members. Those on duty or at work will be joined by off-duty NZPFU members, their families, friends and supporters including some volunteer firefighters as they walk off station and march to a public venue where they will engage with the public the current Fire Crisis. The towns and cities affected are listed below.
- New Plymouth
- Palmerston North
The 1,950 NZPFU members represent approximately 75% of all FENZ employees including almost every Firefighter and Officer, the vast majority of 111 emergency call centre dispatchers, trainers, volunteer support officers, community resilience and risk reduction staff, those working in health, safety & wellbeing roles including welfare officers, and other specialist roles including specialist fire investigators.
NZPFU National Secretary