Members will probably be aware of recent difficulties being experienced by Rosters Department staff in maintaining MSM, particularly at weekends. This has been caused by a number of factors, not the least of which has been the reluctance of some members to commit to working additional shifts over the weekend.
The Union is very concerned at the possibility of appliances being placed out of commission (OOC) due to lack of crew.
This situation has been extremely close to occurring over the past few weekends, and has been only avoided by the Herculean efforts of Rosters staff and the selflessness of certain individuals who have been prepared to put themselves out to avoid the reduction in MSM.
The Union reminds it’s members that it is as much in the interest of our own safety as that of the public that every effort should be made to maintain the MSM figure that Union members have fought long and hard over the years to achieve.
New Zealand is one of the very few countries which has a Minimum Safety Manning figure and it would be a tragedy to compromise the continuation of that situation.
Members must realize that once the practice of placing appliances OOC because of crew shortages is allowed, then it will not be very long before it becomes the norm, and is done every time any member is absent from duty, and will be the option the employer will take, rather than calling back staff to fill the vacancy.
The Union is well aware that the problem is compounded by the employer’s reluctance to increase the 4.5 to 1 ratio for staffing levels, which has become obsolete since the changes to the Holidays Act and the increase in alternative holidays thereby granted to staff.
However it is still necessary for members to do everything within their power to maintain MSM, so as not to give the employer the opportunity to blame members for any need to remove appliances from commission and therefore reduce the fire cover available to the public. This situation will continue and may even get worse when the time off demanded by members starts to be used as the summer period and school holidays get closer.
The Auckland Local Committee urges it’s members to consider the downstream ramifications of failing to maintain MSM, and the difficulties we face in this regard in the near future, and encourages them to do overtime if possible to avoid the situations outlined above.