The Union refers to the letter from the Fire Service of 15 December, which can only be described as a further attempt to intimidate members into repaying an alleged amount that the Fire Service has still not established as having been overpaid.

The attachment to the correspondence does not prove that an over-payment has even been made. The Fire Service needs to provide a breakdown of the lump sum back-payment made, at least separating the payment into:

  • Back-dated wage increase
  • Back-dated overtime
  • Backdated allowances – including the Officership Allowance

Only if this is done, can any over-payment be definitively proved. However, even if the Fire Service can do this (and why hasn’t the Fire Service?), it would not be “cut and dried” that the Employment Relations Authority would order repayment.

Firstly, there is a real argument as to whether or not the E.R.A. has statutory authority to order repayment of any over-payment and there appears no history of the Authority ever doing so.

Secondly, again even if over-payment can be established, the payment was received in good faith and the event occurred some time ago. No doubt the money has been spent in good faith.

Again, even if the Fire Service were to achieve the Orders sought, any costs would be absolutely minimal.

Of course, if the Fire Service were not to succeed which is a real probability, as they still have not provided proof of any over-payment, then the Fire Service will have costs awarded against it.

Maybe this is the reason for this last minute intimidation and bullying – whoever made the decision to proceed with the actions in the Authority has started to realise this was a bad move and could and probably will backfire on him.

The Union also wonders what investigation the Fire Service has made into how the over-payment they alleged occurred. Who has been held accountable and what are the consequences? The Union is sure that everyone can figure the answers to these questions.

The Union is also aware that a number of persons who received the letter of 15 December have received no papers from the E.R.A.

Attached is correspondence from such a person, who quite rightly asks a number of pertinent questions. The reply from Steve Fraser, who apparently is a qualified lawyer sums up the current Human Resources mindset.

The 15 December letter deserves nothing but complete contempt.

From: Rowe, Peter (Papakura)
Sent: Thursday, 18 December 2008 21:00
To: Fraser, Steven
Cc: Cocker, Larry; Clarkson, Andy; Warner, Stephen;; ''; ''; ''
Subject: Re: Letter of 15/12/08
Importance: High


With regards the above letter that I received today signed by a Janine Hearn and advising you as a contact for correspondence.

The opening line advised me that I am in possession of documents that I have never seen, an assumption on your part that is wrong. Given that you/the NZFS has and have had my personal details for approximately nineteen years and given that you are put forward to deal with matters of this magnitude you should know where I live and more obviously where I work. I find it somewhat amazing that, if in fact these documents were a reality that you have not been able to get them to me.

Given that you start this formal communication by telling me that I have something that I don't, and proceed immediately to threaten me with court action because I have not acted on the documentation that I don't have, I take to be a serious personal threat. You then go on to heighten the intimidation by further threatening me with financial ruin in the courts by way of undisclosed damages.

Given that you apologize four times in your letter for a supposed overpayment error on your part, I, like you, will make an assumption, that this letter was intended for someone that has received the previous correspondence and await either your reply and/or apology or the documents I am supposed to be in possession of.


Peter Rowe (2048)
Station Officer Green Watch

From: Fraser, Steven
Sent: Friday, 19 December 2008 07:16
To: Rowe, Peter (Papakura)
Cc: Cocker, Larry; Clarkson, Andy; Warner, Stephen;; ''; ''; ''
Subject: RE: Re: Letter of 15/12/08

If you did not receive documents referred to in the letter, again, we apologise.

We have never claimed not to be at fault in this matter. We accidentally overpaid a sum of money. However, rather than receive good faith co-operation from your representatives and most individuals in addressing the matter, we have received responses like yours.

This has included a newsletter from the NZPFU in May 2008 gleefully stating that the NZFS will have to sue each recipient individually - hence our actions.

We have again requested repayment. I do so again.

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