The Union can update members on events relating to the Fire Service’s intention to integrate Silverdale persons into Auckland Districts, and the information in Newsletter 5/2003.
In that Newsletter members were advised:
- The Fire Service had filed in the Employment Court for an injunction to restrain alleged strike action and to prevent alleged unlawful picketing.
- The Fire Service had named individual Union officials as first Defendants
- The Union was named as Second Defendant
Members should appreciate this itself is unusual. Rather than individualizing or personalizing the dispute by naming particular individuals, the Union would have expected that the Fire Service would have simply named the Union.
In cases where the Union has been the applicant, it has named the Commission (as abody) as the employer or the position of Chief Executive as representing the employer. The Union has not sought action personally against, for example, Margaret Bazley (Commission Chairperson) or Mike Hall (Chief Executive/National Commander).
The Union can only speculate as to why Fire Service management has decided to personally name individuals, but because of the obvious implications of this course of action for those individuals (and any future examples), it can only be seen as intimidatory bully-boy tactics.
Mediation was arranged for 2 days Monday – Tuesday 12/13 May. It was obvious to the Union that mediation could not usefully proceed with legal action to commence so close to that mediation. If the 2 days in mediation were to progress any resolution, the parties had to have time to continue to work through the issues.
In any event, at a Judicial Conference Call on the afternoon of Friday 9 May, the Judge advised he could not hear the matter until, at the earliest, 20 May 2003.
The Judge also noted:
"In the end, although legal remedies may play a part, the problem is also a Human Resources one in the true sense of the word, that can only ultimately be resolved by the parties themselves acting in good faith under the law"
Some progress was made in mediation. However Fire Service management indicated they could not properly respond to proposals from the Union until they had consulted with others, including the Silverdale personnel.
That was exactly what the Union refers to above as far as the timing of any Court action concerned. Despite strong argument from the Union, management representatives would not agree at the conclusion of mediation to further postpone the Court date of 20 May.
Consequently the Union was obliged to continue to work intensively with its lawyers to prepare its defense. This necessitated calling off Branch Conferences to discuss Collective Agreement negotiations and the commencement of bargaining directly with the employer.
Therefore the Union was both extremely angry and disturbed to get a call late on the afternoon of Friday 16 May, that Fire Service management had realized they needed more time to further their position and therefore would apply to the Judge for an indefinite postponement of the legal action due to commence on 20 May.
If management had accepted the Union’s argument on the Tuesday of mediation, the Union:
- Would not have to spend significant time and money on developing its defense with our lawyers.
- Would have been able to commence bargaining as previously planned.
As far as the bargaining is concerned, because of the growing time constraints, any big changes (e.g. TAPs) are looking unlikely to happen.
On Monday 19 May, a further Judicial Conference Call adjourned the Fire Service’s application for an injunction sine die (i.e. no further date set down).
The Union understands that management is continuing to develop a response to the Union’s position and the necessary discussions/mediation with others.
The Union expectation is that mediation will recommence next week. In the interim, the Silverdale people will not transfer into Auckland.
The Union reiterates to members that the cost, the inconvenience, and the distraction management’s refusal to adjourn the Court action when it was obvious that was necessary, but then adjourning indefinitely at the last moment, has been considerable, and has adversely affected the Union’s ability to progress its work as it had planned.
The work to develop the Union’s defense has also involved a large number of members in Auckland providing affidavits and other evidence and the Union’s thanks is extended to them.