Assistant Regional Fire Commander Appointments – Transalpine

Most members will be aware of these two recently announced appointments. The Union has severe reservations about both.

The West Coast appointee is a person from outside the Fire Service with no urban operational experience. His background is that of Emergency Management Officer for the Hastings District Council.

The North Canterbury appointee is presently the Chief Fire Officer of the Rangiora Volunteer Brigade.

The implications and ramifications of such appointments are both significant and serious. Both prior to the appointment, and subsequently, the Union has both in discussion and in writing made clear its complete opposition,

As well, with the North Canterbury position, the Union has serious concerns about the process adopted, including concerns about possible unfairness because of an apparent close personal relationship between the appointee and the Transalpine Regional Commander.

The National Committee will meet on Friday to, amongst other things, formalize the Union’s position to continue to challenge these appointments. This is likely to include a range of tactics including possible legal action.

The Union is working in close consultation with the Chief & Deputy Chief Fire Officers’ Society in coordinating activities to be undertaken.

Fire Safety – Management Plans

The Union, the Chief and Deputy Chiefs’ Society and the P.S.A. were asked to a meeting on 5 March to discuss “the process of consultation around the organizational changes to Fire Safety”. Absolutely no detail was provided as to what these “organizational changes” might be.

Both the Union and the Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs’ Society attended the meeting. A process of consultation was outlined which included:

  • Simultaneous presentation to invited persons in the five main centers.
  • Release of a “Discussion Document” with 3 weeks for people to comment.
  • A confidential briefing for the Unions the day before the simultaneous presentation.

Noting the similarities to the so-called consultation process of the 1990s, the Union emphatically rejected the proposal.

The Fire Service seemed (again) to be quite unaware of their obligations as in the Consultation Clause of the Collective Agreement –

“The obligation to consult is not limited to consultation about the consequences of a proposed change nor limited to members only, but includes consultation whether or not the proposed change should take place and the reasoning behind the proposed change”.

Obviously the consultation envisaged in the C.A. is not management unilaterally producing a “Discussion Document” and then asking for comment.

What is required is before any “Discussion Document” is commenced, genuine consultation must take place with the Union over why change is necessary, what options are available, what is intended to be achieved and the consequences for affected members.

At the meeting, management agreed to comply with the requirements of the Consultation Clause.

Consequently, before any “Discussion Document” is provided, management has agreed to genuine consultation with the Union. A consequence of that consultation could be that no such Document is necessary.

Overpayment of Officership Allowance

To clarify the previous Notice on this matter, there is no legal obligation to repay any over-payment unless by Court Order. As the previous Notice advised, management would need to go to Court and obtain an Order against each individual management alleges an over-payment has been made to. This obviously would be a lengthy process.

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