Christmas cheer may have come a little earlier for NZPFU members with the NZPFU National Committee today releasing and recommending ratification of a proposed settlement with FENZ. After 18 gruelling months of negotiations and six months of industrial action including all NZPFU members walking off the job twice, the NZPFU members have just received the detail of the proposed settlement that the NZPFU recommends members’ accept.
A snapshot of some of the highlights of the recommended settlement are:
- Life-saving blood screening for the early detection of firefighters’ occupational cancer and other illness
- Medical response recognition for Firefighters and Dispatchers
- Psychological support and supervision programme for Firefighters and Dispatchers
- Financial assistance for all members to access Income Protection and Life Insurance
- Safe Systems of Work progress with NZPFU with equal representation as FENZ on working parties to recommend appliances (type, numbers and location), staffing (levels and location) and equipment (boots and helmets including trial protocols)
- Significant cumulative wage increases up to 24%, and backdating to 2021
- 22% cumulative increase to allowances, and backdating to 2021
- $1500 sign-on bonus to be paid Christmas week (if ratified)
- Recognition of the increased costs of living and working in Auckland with an additional one-off payment for Auckland members, and ongoing annual Auckland Shift Worker allowance to recognise the Auckland Taskforce report that demonstrated the financial disadvantages of working in the region.
- Long-notice retirement benefit
NZPFU rejected FENZ’s previous offers that did not have the same safe systems of work or safety, health and wellbeing provisions. FENZ’s previous wage offers were dismal in comparison and this current proposed settlement includes significant backdating. The overall numbers put this ground-breaking settlement into perspective. The costing for this offer is approximately $145 million – a $100 million more compared to FENZ’s July offer costed at $45 million.
The proposed settlement is much more than the numbers – it is a start to appropriately addressing safe systems of work and necessary occupational health and wellbeing support and assistance. The offer goes some way to ensure NZPFU members are respected and valued and a pathway to begin repairing the relationship between management and staff and FENZ and the NZPFU.
This proposed settlement would not have been achieved without the support of the Government, Minister Jan Tinetti and her staff.
The turning point in the negotiations was the Graeme Colgan report which arose out of a process facilitated by the Minister, assisted by former CTU President Ross Wilson and independent financial reviewers contracted by the Department of Internal Affairs to assist the parties in determining accurate and reliable costings and options. The Colgan report found firefighters significantly underpaid, that NZPFU members felt undervalued and disrespected, that staffing and appliance safe systems of work issues needed to be addressed and mental health and occupational illness needed recognition. The proposed settlement now being recommended for ratification goes further than the Colgan report in terms and conditions and costings.
This proposed settlement would not have been achieved without the public support for safe systems of work and better health and wellbeing support for our members. We also recognise and appreciate the support our members received across the political spectrum.
NZPFU membership ratification meetings will be held from Whangarei to Invercargill from the 8th to the 18th December 2022 with the vote being counted on the evening of the 18th.