A final resolution of this Dispute has now been reached.

The Dispute commenced with the Fire Service determining to allow the transfer into the Auckland Brigade proper in February 2003 of the four persons employed at Silverdale.

These four were both “flop-over” ex D1s and CSTs.

The Union’s response to this was:
- Pickets at the Stations these four were to transfer to; and
- Banning applications for the consequent vacancies at Silverdale.

This action was successful in that the transfers did not actually occur – the transfers were deferred. This action continued the strong opposition from the Auckland Local towards the 1996 “flop-overs”; and the outcome of the Dispute as reported on below substantiates and fully justifies this opposition by the Auckland Local and its members.

The Fire Service however filed in the Employment Court seeking an interim injunction alleging unlawful strike action and unlawful picketing.

Unusually and inappropriately the First Defendants were named as:
- Mike McEnaney
- Jeff McCulloch
- Athol Conway

The Union was named as Second Defendant. A Hearing was set down for 15 May 2003.

Prior to the filing of the papers in Court, a number of meetings had been held with National and Auckland management. These included formal mediation using a Mediator from the Labour Department and eventually mediation involving a Judge of the Employment Court (Judicial Conference) A full list of the meetings dealing specifically with this issue is attached. As well there was a large number of telephone conference calls relating to Judicial Conferences etc., and the integration issue was also discussed at a number of meetings with Mike Hall as an agenda item.

Mediation continued and the Court action was successively postponed and rescheduled.

It was apparent to the Union early on in this Dispute, that although it was likely that various injunctions would be granted against the Union, they would not resolve the essence of the Dispute.

After some time during the mediation process, the Union believes the Fire Service also accepted this analysis. However, a reasonable conclusion regarding the Court action would be that injunctions would be granted against Mike, Jeff and Athol and the Union.

This would be an expensive business and the resulting injunction would cause real difficulties – particularly for members on an individual basis. To defend the injunction would have cost the Union in excess of $50,000 and the Union would most possibly have had to meet the Fire Service’s costs. As well, the Union could have been required to reimburse the Fire Service for the overtime costs incurred in covering Silverdale.

As well, if injunctions were granted, any person refusing to cooperate with the transferees could well have been subject to Contempt of Court proceedings (i.e.breaching an injunction) as well as Fire Service disciplinary action. The Union itself could have faced substantial fines or even possible sequestration of Union funds.

The mediation reached a new level with a Judge of the Employment Court’s participation (known as a Judicial Conference). Three separate days of mediation were held with the
Judge.

The details of what occurs in mediation must remain confidential, but there is no doubt that the contribution of the Judge was very significant and assisted in the parties reaching a process for settlement.

As well, by this stage, through the mediation process the basis of the Dispute had been somewhat diluted in that the two transferees who were “flop over” ex D1s ( Fuller and Morris) were out of the picture. They had been transferred out of Silverdale to non-operational positions on the same basis as McErlich earlier in the year.

The Dispute now centered on the two ex CSTs who wanted to transfer out of Silverdale.

The Union was able to proceed mediation on the basis that the objection to these two ex CSTs was of a lesser nature than the objection to the “flop over” ex D1s.

The Union also noted no particular objection to the two remaining ex CSTs at Silverdale.

At the conclusion of the final mediation with the Judge, the Union made a proposal for a process for resolving the dispute. This essentially was that the Judge would make a recommendation on the outcome of the Dispute, both the Union and the Fire Service would be bound by this recommendation, and this recommendation would be inserted into a binding settlement signed by the Mediator. This meant that the process was agreed by the Union, but although the Union agreed to be bound by the outcome, that outcome itself was not an agreement between the parties.

The Judge’s recommendations, which are incorporated into the settlement document signed by the Mediator are:

  • Mr. Raikes and Mr. Shore to transfer to Devonport (North Shore District) or any other Fire District forthwith.
  • Mr. Woods to transfer to Titirangi or Waitemata and remain there for 12 months.
  • Mr. Woods and Mr. Hitchcock may apply for a transfer after 6 months to firefighter positions outside of Auckland.
  • After 12 months both Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Woods may apply for transfer without restriction.
  • There will be a Working Party to examine the feasibility of and timetabling for implementation of 24/7 manning at Silverdale (to include employer, NZPFU
    and volunteer representatives).
  • The parties will commence discussions forthwith regarding reinstatement of the crewing of Auckland’s three specialist appliances (Hazmat, Control Unit and B.A. Tender) on an agreed basis.
  • The bans presently in place from the Union will be removed forthwith.
  • The Fire Service Commission will immediately file and serve a Notice of Discontinuance of the proceedings.
  • The Union will use its best endeavours to cooperate with the Fire Service Commission over the implementation of the transfer of the Silverdale firefighters.
  • There are no issues of costs between the parties.
  • Until the transfers of the Silverdale firefighters are affected, the current staffing arrangements at Silverdale will remain in place.

This outcome can only be seen as a considerable victory for the Union and the tactics adopted by the Union throughout this Dispute. Considerable thanks are also due to the Union’s Lawyer, Peter Cranney (Oakley Moran) for his skillful, understanding and inventive advice during the Dispute. A copy of a letter received from Peter is attached.

Faced with the almost inevitability of having injunctions granted against it at considerable cost, the Union has stopped the transfers of the “flop over” ex D1s (Fuller and Morris)
and achieved a significant delay in the transfer to 24/7 Stations of the two ex CSTs who were also subject to the Dispute.

As well, the two Working Parties provide a real opportunity for future staffing increases and in the case of the Working Party on 24/7 manning at Silverdale, could form the basis of a formal template for Stations moving from volunteer status to 24/7 manning.

The Union understands that the vacancies at Silverdale, which will be consequent on the three existing Silverdale personnel moving out, will be advertised in the next Gazette.

Arising out of the settlement document, the Union’s ban on applying for these positions is removed and members are free to apply for them.

Meetings in 2003 specifically related to Auckland Integration

11 February  With management
21 February  Formal Mediation
18 February  Formal Mediation
7 April  Formal Mediation
23 April  Formal Mediation including Lawyers
2 May Formal Mediation including Lawyers  
12 May With management
16 May With management  
20 May  Formal Mediation including Lawyers
29 May  Formal Mediation
14 June  Formal Mediation
1 September  Judicial Conference
12 September  Judicial Conference
14 October Judicial Conference  

In addition, there were:

  • Numerous meetings with the Chief Executive where the dispute was on the
    agenda
  • Many discussions both face to face and by telephone with the Union’s lawyer.
  • Four Judicial Telephone Conference Calls with a Judge.

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