President's Blog: Heads up 7

#BalanceforBetter
Yesterday marked the 108th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the Hashtag above is one way we can recognise the women in our lives, whether at home or at work, those who have led by example in spearheading women into what is a great job, with great camaraderie and as we all know and understand, form our 2nd families.

Secretary Wattie and I met with National Women’s Advisors Katie Smart and Rachel Utumapu last week to further progress the work they are doing and the work we are undertaking in relation to values and leadership. We expressly asked them to promote our women to step up into being elected Union representatives, a challenge which they have taken up readily. We currently have 3 women representatives, Xavier in Tauranga and Barbara in Dunedin and Carren in Auckland.

Its interesting to note that as of today, from the 122 Women Union members, there are 2 trainee FF’s, 4 Trainee Communicators, 14 Communicators, 3 FRMO’s 16 FF’s 25 QFF’s, 15 Senior Communicators, 2 Shift managers, 21 SFF’s, 1 SSO, 8 SO’s and 6 at AAM rank and 2 on parental leave. I have one of those SFF’s on my watch and I know my watch is better balanced for it, I really value what she brings to our crew, our second family.

The NZPFU women I know are fiercely protective of our job, the standards for entry and the good culture that we have formed over many years. They all understand that it takes a whole crew to do the job we do however, sometimes we lose sight of that whole of crew culture and we need to make sure we keep that in sight and in mind as that is what makes us Professional Career Firefighters. I am constantly in awe of the capacity, smarts and courage of the women in my life.

Talking of Union representatives, we have 5 Local Reps registered for a range of CTU (Council of Trade Union) training courses and another 3 on waiting lists. These courses give attendee’s great insight and extra skills and confidence to carry on the good work they are doing advocating for you. They have the added bonus of giving our Union reps exposure to other Union reps from a wide range of organisations. Here they will learn and forge contacts which may help us all into the future.

Last week, the Council met with FENZ and we progressed medical response working conditions. We had a presentation from Korn Ferry on how the system broadly works. They are coming back to us with more reference material and ideas on how other organisations around the world incorporate working condition work into employee’s agreements.

We are gathering our documentation that we filed on the IFE dispute. When we have ours and FENZ’s in hand we will then meet with the arbitrator. I would envisage this happening well before the months end.

Earlier this week we met with the CEO and the Board Chair Paul Swain to give them a heads up on the presumptive cancer legislation changes we are progressing this month. It was pleasing to see and hear them being very supportive of our cause and our goal of getting Professional Career Firefighters covered under the ACC Act for workplace illness for cancer. Yesterday, we met with ACC Minister Iain Lees Galloway to brief him and his advisors on what we are planning and how the campaign will be working. We will be back in Parliament on the 20th and 21st March meeting various Politicians and hosting a function with key note speaker Winnipeg firefighters Union President Alex Forrest.

Regarding fire hazard risk assessment, we have advised management that we are happy for our FRMO’s to undergo the training in order for them to complete this type of work. This is with the understanding that this work will be included in future job sizing. FRMO’s will be recording their workload and time so that we all can get a better picture of the scale of workload. It seems as though management are putting some logic around which areas are the most pressing and therefore informing which FRMO’s will be offered the training. This will assist in workforce planning and future employment opportunities. We have always said that our FRMO people are happy to undertake any and all work as long as it is included and considered in job size, FRMO workload is managed and they are remunerated for it.

Your National Committee is busy as usual, including an absolute myriad of safety and wellbeing meetings including health standards. Still much work to do in this space! The TSC (Training Standards Committee) has finally agreed their TOR’s and meeting dates are almost set. An incredibly important piece of work that has come out of the last CEA terms of settlement.The United Service Delivery (operations) has taken a more focussed turn towards role and rank as well as command and control and our reps and SME’s are working to ensure our professional standing, qualifications, assessment and training is regarded in the very highest way.

The St John’s MOU is up for consultation. As a result we gathered a group of Union SME’s and developed our submission on improvements that we would like and need to help our members with an increasingly difficult job, including the Communication centre members role and important part they play. You can find our submission here. Members are advised that this is a list of changes we want, it may not necessarily be reflected in the document in their entirety. We are pushing extremely hard though!

SME’s are operating across the organisation for us. This is a system we want to continue and to develop. We certainly recognise the excellent skills our members have and we should be taking advantage of them. Currently SME’s are operating in water rescue, St Johns MOU, Command and control, fleet, Auckland taskforce group, Gas detection, risk reduction, modular service delivery, visual identifiers (rank and role markings), local risk modelling, strategic relationships, Regional and National training.

A few weeks ago, we met with FENZ management and in particular the operations department. They are always looking for good enthusiastic Union members to take up roles within the operations department. They offer flexible working arrangements and it is completely in all members interests as well as the organisations as a whole to have Union members working up there, advising and influencing operations. We are the operations experts after all. So if you are considering a move, jump in, the water’s fine and it’s not as scary as you may think!

Finally, the new NZPFU online secure forum is nearly ready to go live. We have a great range of moderators from across the membership. If you are keen, please email the webmaster at webmaster@nzpfu.org.nz and let him know please. When it goes live you will receive an e mail on your FENZ e mail with a secure one time link to register. Please do and make use of it, the National Committee are on, as will Local officials! (they don’t know that yet).

As always, stay safe

Ian Wright
President
New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union

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