President's Blog: Heads up 6

Well work has well and truly started to ramp up here! There’s a few things I would like to cover off on this blog. 

Firstly, we have our monthly meeting with management booked for today. We hold these meetings to discuss issues and problems before they get to dispute level – this is challenging and productive work and is a priority for us. The February agenda is full and includes so far;

Updated spreadsheet for pay runs for the office Uniform procurement, standards and strategy
Holiday pay,pay back pay Surveys, lack of consultation
Operations department secondments Update on pay data Korn Ferry
Volunteers and rural fire pay, employment implications Terms of settlement, IFE, Medical recognition, Job sizing, Comcen National forums
Reimbursements for travel etc. streamline process Fire ops 101
15 high priority functions and projects Back dating pay rises and HDL Super
District support officers May values conference
Levy Local risk modelling and capability planning
Operational crew increases Organisational design
Regional trainers/senior, requirements, secondments Difference in PSA and CEA values black watch
Carcinogen plan/campaign Overtime travel time arrangements

Usually, the National Commander, Director P and C, Employment relations advisors, Media, Director training, a career board member and an Area commander and others who we need to talk to about specific topics come along to talk to the Council plus one National Committee member, This time Boyd Raines is coming along with Wattie, Joe and myself.

Carcinogens and firefighters, I’m pretty sure we all know the inherent dangers our job poses to our health over the medium to long term in respect of absorption, inhalation etc of carcinogenic material from products of combustion. We are busily organising a concentrated campaign to attempt a legislative change for firefighters. We have access to the world leaders in this area and we will be using them. One world leader is our own Secretary Wattie Watson.

Just a short reminder to bag and tag contaminated fire gear, shower asap, replace and wash your helmet liners, send away your flash hoods, every time you’re in a fire, and plug in your exhaust extractors. It is unforgivable not to in this day and age. Diesel is already listed as a class 1 carcinogen.

We are pleased to announce that we have had our request to meet with The Honourable Iain Lees-Galloway, minister for worksafe agreed to. We are very pleased to have our request accepted and will make the most of this opportunity to explain, inform and impress upon him and his advisors, the scale of carcinogens the firefighters are exposed to on a daily basis.

Job sizing is coming up soon, we have Comcen operators/dispatchers sorted as we do FRMO’s, however we need representatives from the VSO group and trainer groups please. Can you please forward your names if you’re interested in undertaking this process to inform the job sizing process for these parts of the CEA to wellington@nzpfu.org.nz. We have already got good contacts in training with John Barlow and Danny Beban providing expert opinions and advice. We have Peter Hallett all over FRMO and he is involving Darren Aitken in his work also. Mau Barbara, Carlos Dempsey and Carren Larking are invaluable within the Comcen environment. These are great development opportunities for our members and we are always looking for more people to step up in this space.

On the Comcen, we are inviting those 3 reps along to our special conference in May in Auckland. We are hoping to look at changing our representation models and starting with the Comcen, we are looking at opportunities to improve their access and influence. If this works out we will definitely be looking at further changes down the track.

The May conference is progressing well, we are looking forward to developing our work on Values, Leadership and Strategy. We are also combining this conference and creating space for branch meetings. This is important work, where the Locals from each branch can get together and discuss progress, issues and network, this also provides us with an opportunity to conduct elections for returning officers.

We are preparing a submission on the Tranche 1, Service Delivery Leadership team consultation document. This document is very short on detail and the mere mention that the most senior operational leaders in FENZ do not have to come from Career Firefighter ranks is a major concern for us. We will make our submission available online so that you can read and use it as a guide to make your own views known.

The rubber is about to hit the road in the rank, role and command and control space now that the new Deputy Chief Executive of Operations (service delivery, hate that title) Kerry Gregory has taken up his position in Wellington. We have a meeting set for early on the 13th to catch him up with our views on the world of FENZ and all those important functions that affect Career Firefighters and the public. We have some very serious meetings and work is being undertaken this week and we see no change to that for our reps involved in the coming weeks.

The MOU/code of conduct which will more than likely be re-named as the Charter, is extremely close to being agreed upon, we are just waiting on final signatures to from Local, Branch and National officials. This document sets out the expectations for how we behave toward each other, our members and the employer. It is an important document as it allows us to progress the NZPFU into a modern, relevant trade union, which reflects and responds to the needs of its members, it is about us being more accountable, more accessible and more available. The collective we, is the future of our Union, we need to continually plan for the future, who’s next, where is our talent coming from, what are the barriers to our members from being involved. Being part of this union should be a positive environment, affecting change, influencing management and members in a productive way is challenging work but it should encourage belonging and participation. We are incredibly lucky to have the conditions we have, we are one of very few unions that enjoy 99.9% density in membership, which is a great advantage to our cause and should never be taken for granted.

Check out our new web page for Life Honorary members at www.nzpfu.org.nz/honours

We need to continue to build on the great work these members and former members have done.

A new secure NZPFU members forum is nearly ready to go live. We need you! We need moderators for our forum groups/topics please. If you think you can assist with moderation then please e mail webmaster@nzpfu.org.nz

Pages for the forum are:

  • General - A general message board for non specific discussion
  • Auckland Task Force group - A message board for the Auckland task force group members to interact and discuss Auckland specific issues around the Task force arising out of the Terms of settlement 2018
  • Comcen - A specific discussion page for Comcen Communicators
  • FRMO - A specific discussion page for Fire Risk Managers and Fire Investigators
  • Trainers - A specific discussion page for Regional and National Trainers
  • VSO’s - A specific discussion page for Volunteer / District support officers
  • Local Secretaries - A discussion page specifically for the 19 Local Secretaries to communicate and discuss their issues and commonalities
  • Training - A forum specific to the training topic, this is a very important topic for firefighters and firefighting community
  • Command and Control - A forum specifically to discuss Command and control and the Union’s position and direction
  • Health and Safety - A forum specifically for H & S and wellbeing concerns, discussion

Moderators will be given governing and guiding rules. This is the first cut at a secure online forum and we see this evolving as topics change, ideas for improvement and development from members influencing the direction and content of the forum. More information about joining and contributing will be coming soon.

Lastly, In terms of Judge Coral Shaws recent review and some of the comments contained within, we can’t forget about the past, however, we shouldn’t let it define or restrict us into the future, there are too many opportunities for Professional Career Firefighters to be ignored. We just need to be organised.

Stay safe

Ian Wright 
President 
New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union

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