Blog from the desk of the President

My name is Ian Wright and I am privileged to be writing this first blog as the newly elected President of the NZPFU, a Union I have been a proud member of for 31 years.

The recent election presented a close result and I acknowledge the other candidates. I am pleased that they all have formal roles within the current NZPFU structure. I look forward to working with them in a constructive way which will benefit all the members. It is my view that this is the function and purpose of any Trade Union. I welcome the differing opinions and views of all the local leaders, it is only when all of these views are considered that sound solutions can be developed.

I am taking this opportunity to communicate with you all and outline my vision for my time here. There is no doubt we are facing some tough challenges at the moment that I and the Vice President to be, Secretary, new Secretary and National committee will work through these. We are in rapidly changing times with differing expectations on accountability, transparency and communication. I intend to address all of those amongst the current and future workload. There is no doubt there is much work to do

We also face additional challenges internally with the current situation in the Auckland local. This particular issue is a complicated and multi-dimensional issue with long history and strong personalities at its core. The solutions must be sought in a measured, deliberate and reasonable way. To this end, I am seeking advice on the process, complaints and outcomes and will notify as soon as this advice is received.

I wish to comment on the state of some of the communication and actions occurring towards and between Union members and officials. I wish to highlight the word Professional, it’s our job, it’s our Union and we must conduct ourselves with professionalism and dignity. While I welcome differing and challenging views in any group I lead, they must be delivered in a considered and professional way with a genuine willingness to find solutions. I will not tolerate bullying, intimidation and personal insults, we would not tolerate such behaviour from the employer and there is certainly no place for such behaviour in this Union. I am pleased to say that communication and relationships have already changed in this space and robust and constructive conversations have begun.

Again, I look forward to helping solve this for and with the members of the Auckland local as well as the rest of the country.

But while all that is going on there is also significant “business as usual” work that must continue, in just the last fortnight alone we have and will be involved and influencing

Service design and improvement workshops Fleet governance
Operational intelligence workshops Unified service delivery workshop
Strategic partnerships low level design IALDP course development and attendance
Working safely around water Operation response functions low level design
Learner references group Type 3 user group
Plant and equipment group Command unit and hazmat training
Community engagement low level design Risk management low level design
Risk management workshops Risk management programs
Employee transition group Volunteer reward and recognition
Unified uniform governance Draft updated sect.66 policy
Director HR meeting Interviews for new National Secretary
Occupational health core group Meeting Chief Executive
Workplace cancer exposure project Auckland follow up ratification process
Joint AS/NZ standards PPE Governments zero harm road strategy
Hep B working group Contractor management Safe@work
Ratification outcome meeting  

This last meeting, held yesterday, kicked off the start of the Auckland taskforce, medical response job size work and the Korn Ferry (Hay group) comparator review work.

This meeting was attended by 3 Auckland Local officials, James Hall, Auckland acting President, Martin Campbell, Auckland acting Secretary and Boyd Raines, Northern Branch Committee, the Secretary and myself and Brendan Nally, Director P&C, Chris Wells, Manager Workplace Relations and HR Services, Richard Dagger, Principal Advisor Workplace Relations and Brett Warwick, Chief Financial Officer. The meeting was positive with robust conversations to progress constructive and challenging work (as is the case at National level) and good progress was made to build a governance group to oversee the Auckland task force, made up of Director P&C, Chief financial officer, Senior Auckland Local Official and a National Council Official. Progress also with the task force group, the 3 Auckland Local officials have been tasked with supplying around 3-5 Local reps to be on the taskforce, along with a senior HR/P&C manager, 2 Senior FENZ managers, a Project manager and administration support and a National Union council rep.

Progress was made on recognising medical call response in the job sizing process with Chris Wells and I meeting Korn Ferry (previously Hay Group) to start the process of how we assess the impact of medical call response on the welfare of Firefighters. We envisage this work being undertaken by a wider group but will be in a better place to determine that once we realise the commitment, workload and input required.

Chris and I are beginning to contact Korn Ferry and look at the job size comparator group we are compared to. We may cross reference or consider input from another organisation that does the same type of work as well.

Union attendees were left in no doubt, that there is an extremely strong commitment by FENZ to complete these projects and have successful outcomes for our members

And on the back of some awareness raising around mental health earlier in the month I would also like to acknowledge the threats to this in our own profession. I myself have faced challenges in this space and I am acutely aware how important the support of those close to you make. Don’t be shy about reaching out to your colleagues and family or even formal medical support, mental health challenges effect what many people would consider “normal” people, across society but even more so professionals working in emergency services

I hope to provide regular updates (hopefully shorter!) on the work we are doing, the difference we are making by being at these workshops/meetings and influencing those around us to better the working conditions of Career firefighters and provide better outcomes for the public.

Thank you and stay safe

Ian Wright

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