After some weeks of what proved to be complex negotiations, the Union Committee is in a position to recommend to members a proposed settlement for ratification.

Key details (which will be expanded on later in this Newsletter) include:        

  • A 3 year term 1 July 2003 – 30 June 2006
  • A 3% increase in wages and allowances at the commencement of the agreement and each annual anniversary thereafter.
  • An extra days service holiday after 14 years service.
  • Hepatitis B vaccination offered with reimbursement for anyone who has been vaccinated at their own cost in the past 24 months.
  • Fire Service meeting the direct cost of obtaining the necessary licences to drive Fire Service vehicles and reimbursing this cost for anyone who has
    qualified at their own expense in the past 24 months.
  • Alignment of Communication Centre workers’ conditions with that of Operational Firefighters, and by 30 June 2004 to have specific fixed pay rates for the various positions/ranks.
  • Working Parties to deal with:
    - Greater flexibility in working hours by agreement, for certain Black Watch workers.
    - TAPS
    - SMS
    - Pay range for officers
    - Communication Centre pay points
    - Superannuation/Total Employment Package
    - Cost containment

Given the overall package and particularly the way difficult issues have been dealt with (e.g. TAPs, SMS, Superannuation), the Union Committee recommends this proposed settlement for ratification.

Ratification meetings are presently being organized and you will be advised as soon as possible of the meeting date for your localities.

Details of the Proposed Settlement

1) Term
Three years commencing 1 July 2003 and concluding 30 June 2006.

2) Wages & Allowances

  • 1 July 2003 – 3% adjustment to base rates and allowances
  • 1 July 2004 - 3% adjustment to base rates and allowances
  • 1 July 2005 - 3% adjustment to base rates and allowances

3) **Cost Containment Project
The parties commit to a cost containment project commencing in August 2003 to run up to 12 months.
The team will comprise two Union and two management representatives. The project is intended to achieve efficiencies of $500K within the overall operation of the New Zealand Fire Service, but with particular focus on the payroll and associated costs.

4) **Training & Progressions System
The Union and Fire Service agree that the officer and firefighter training systems need revamping. The Union acknowledges the work undertaken by the PDU to develop a new
training system. However, the parties accept that there are some issues of concern regarding detail that requires further work and agreement. These are:

  • Distance learning – content and role of log books
  • Supporting structures – TSB, AAB, Examination Board – Union involvement        
  • Timeframes for progression – certainty over progression times        
  • Implications for the relationships between paid and volunteer personnel arising from TAPs        
  • Lateral entry        
  • Grandfathering provisions        
  • Post appointment training for officers        
  • Recognition of participation by officers in revamped training

These issues will be resolved by agreement through discussions led by the Director of Operational Training & Support by the end of August 2004.        

Subject to agreement on these matters, certain changes to the Collective Employment Agreement may be needed.

Comment:
Any change to the present Training & Progression requirement will require changes to the Collective Agreement. Such changes can be made during the currency of a Collective Agreement, but require ratification from the membership. Thus any changes to Training & Progression will require membership approval.

5) **Station Management System – SMS2 

  • SMS1 will not be extended beyond the Stations currently using the system.        
  • The Union and the Fire Service wish to introduce a system to be developed in New Zealand to replicate the functionality of the Queensland Station Management System and consistent with the principles set out in Schedule 5 of the Collective Employment.        
  • The parties will form a Project Group of six plus Chair to oversee the development of the SMS2. It has been agreed that Paul McGill be the Chair of the Project Group and the remaining members will be appointed equally by both parties.        
  • The timelines for the SMS2 system are for full implementation by 1 July 2004.        
  • Until the new system is available in any particular Station, the status quo hours will be observed.        
  • All references to routine hours and daily routine (except as in clause 2.5.6) that restrict the times when certain work can be done, and those clauses that refer to “the
    trial of open working model”, shall be deemed to be null and void on the implementation of SMS2 through Project Team agreement.

Comment:
The removal of references to Routine Hours and SMS being introduced nationwide can only occur when the Project Team agrees. The Union has determined that the Union
representatives on the Project Team will only agree if and when the membership endorses any proposal.

Whilst this is not a formal ratification procedure (as required for TAPs), in effect it has the same effect – no change to the status quo can be made without membership approval.

6) Service Leave
The Fire Service and the Union have been in dispute for the past twelve months over the ability to credit service in certain organisations (1.4.6.2) for the purposes of service leave
(2.7.6). The parties have agreed that staff employed up until 1 July 2003 who have employment service with other organisations under 1.4.6.2, may on application and
submission of evidence of qualifying service have this service credited towards service leave. From 1 July 2003, the plain meaning of 2.7.6 shall apply i.e. that qualifying service
is continuous employment with the New Zealand Fire Service only.

From 1 July 2003, Service Holidays 2.7.6 will increase from 3 to 4 days for staff with continuous service in excess of 14 years.

Long Service Leave entitlement (clause 1.4.6.1) shall be taken within eight years of the worker’s entitlement.

Comment:
The time in which Long Service Leave can be taken is extended from 25 years to 28 years service i.e. qualify at 20 years service and must take before 28 years service.

7) Agreement Simplification/Policy Statements
Agreed that core policy documents be incorporated into the Collective Employment Agreement and that a companion, plain-English, summary version of the Collective Employment Agreement be developed by agreement that could meet the Fire Service’s need for a simplified agreement. The core policies to be incorporated into the Collective Employment Agreement are:

  • POLHr 2.6 Appointments Policy        
  • POLHR 2.7 Review of Appointments        
  • POLHR2.14 Transfers, Notifications of Vacancies and Appointments Policy        
  • POLHR 4.6 Personnel Records Management        
  • POLHR 6.6 Gratuities        
  • Leave for Fire Service Examinations (policy to be formatted)        
  • Entitlements, Processes and Authorisations when attending Fire Service Training Courses        
  • Physical Competency Assessment – contained in PCA updates published on 12 March and 29 May 2003.

Comment:
The inclusion of these policies into the Collective Agreement means:        

  • Enforcement of their contents in the Employment Authority/Employment Court.        
  • No changes can be made to them without Union agreement.

8) **Pay Range Station Officer/Senior Station Officer
Agreed that this matter be dealt with through a Working Party after conclusion of the Collective Employment Agreement negotiations. This would enable the issue to be considered in conjunction with TAPs. Nothing in the Collective Employment Agreement will be introduced to limit this option being introduced by subsequent agreement with the Union.

9) Specialist Roles – Training/Fire Safety
Agreed that the current Black Watch provisions in the Collective Employment Agreement (Clause 2.3.5) should be amended to provide for the employer or employee to request that an employee’s hours of work be varied beyond the eight-hour, five-day week where there is a genuine, and ongoing business or personal need for work to be undertaken outside these hours. Such a variation would be based upon:

  • The maintenance of an overall 40 hour week;        
  • Unplanned work outside Black Watch hours (call-outs) be compensated under the existing overtime provisions;        
  • The agreed variation being negotiated with the individual being represented by the Union; and        
  • Planned work outside Black Watch hours be compensated by time in lieu which should be taken within the next 10 working days.

Comment:
Although there is some flexibility provided in the present Black Watch hours of work provisions, this proposal will make it simpler for variations to be agreed.

There are a number of Black Watch positions where the standard 8.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday week is not appropriate, particularly V.S.O. and Fire Safety positions.

10) Not offering the Collective Employment Agreement conditions to those not covered by the Collective Agreement
Agreed that the Fire Service will not offer the terms and conditions of the Collective Employment Agreement by way of Individual Employment Agreements without genuine bargaining. By way of clarification, the requirement for genuine bargaining will be met bythe Fire Service formally offering an Individual Employment Agreement in writing and an employee accepting the agreement by signing an agreement. It is noted that such an agreement will not include provisions related to Union activities or rights such as Trade Union Education Leave or access rights.

Comment:
This claim is an attempt to deal with the “free-loader” issue, i.e. the Fire Service simply passing on benefits negotiated by the Union to non-members. It requires the employer
and the non-member to engage in genuine bargaining before varying an individual agreement. It does not prevent however, non-members eventually getting benefits obtained by the Union, as, at this stage, the E.R.A. does not permit this.

11) Hepatitis B Vaccination
Agreed that Hepatitis B vaccinations will be made available to all operational personnel. Any operational employee who has paid for vaccination at their own cost in the past 24 months will be reimbursed on presentation of evidence of the expenditure.

12) Holiday Pay Supplement Calculations
Agreed that the Fire Service will provide an explanation of the Holiday Pay Supplement calculation at the time that any payment is made.

13) Fire Service Driving
Agreed that where the Fire Service requires an employee to be qualified to drive a Fire Service vehicle, and that employee was recruited without the necessary licences, the Fire Service will meet the direct cost of the employee attaining the required licence. Any employee who has been required to pay such costs themselves in the past 24 months will be reimbursed by the Fire Service on provision of evidence of payment and confirmation that they were required by the Fire Service to attain a certain level of licence.

14) Pre-Officer/Post Officer Appointment Training  Agreed that TAPs would continue/or include formal pre-officer training, and ongoing refresher training for officers after appointment.

15) Trade Union Education Leave
Effective date for annual entitlements agreed to be the commencement date of the Collective Employment Agreement.

16) Communications Centres
Staff covered by the CEA receive 3% adjustment as at 1 July 2003. Parties undertake by 30 June 2004 to determine a range of salary points set around the following roles:

  • Trainee Communicator        
  • Communicator        
  • Senior Communicator        
  • Shift Manager

These salary points will be increased by 3% on 1 July 2004 and 1 July 2005.
Conditions of employment to be aligned to main CEA conditions for firefighters/officers in the following areas:

  • Overtime        
  • Call backs        
  • Sick Leave        
  • Domestic/Bereavement Leave        
  • Service Leave

Part 3 of the CEA will be reworded to deal with only those remaining conditions that are specific to the Communication Centres.

Comment:
The problems experienced with the present Collective Agreement of individuals not actually getting the % increase negotiated (because of the range of rates of pay system), have been overcome. All Comm. Centre workers will get their particular pay rate increased by 3% from 1 July 2003.

By the time of the next increase (1 July 2004) a particular pay rate will be established for each specific position. For many Comm. Centre workers this will create a bigger increase than 3%. Those paid over the newly established rate will be grand-fathered.

17) Travel Time
The parties have been in dispute over the payment for travel time while on Fire Service training courses. It is agreed that:

  • Within two months of the settlement of the Collective Employment Agreement, the parties will attend a mediation to address these matters;
  • If agreement cannot be reached through mediation, the parties will confer on the mediator the power to decide the matter under S150(1) of the Employment Relations Act 2000; and
  • If, as a result of the mediation, the Fire Service’s practice is to change, the change will be backdated to the commencement of the present policy i.e. 5 October 2002.

18) Superannuation/Access to Total Remuneration Packages
The parties have discussed Superannuation and access to Total Remuneration Packages at length. The positions reached in negotiations have been documented in an exchange of letters of 3 September 2003. The parties have agreed to establish a Working Party to conclude the matter by 30 December 2003.

Comment:
The letters referred to are attached to this Newsletter. The matter of Superannuation and access to a Total Remuneration Package was by far the most difficult matter to deal
with.

There is a serious anomaly at present where some of the membership have access to a TEP and some do not.

The Union has a long-standing policy that access to the Employer’s Superannuation Subsidy should only be available through membership of the Superannuation Scheme. However, the Union also expects members to be treated equally and fairly.

The employer’s proposal did allow a choice for those persons employed at 1 January1996 to have a one-off opportunity to opt for a TEP. The rationale for this date is that was when the CSTs were introduced who had the opportunity to take a TEP. There was an anomaly or grievance created at that time.

It was agreed however, that it would be premature to put this proposal into the overall package for ratification and, given that the option would not be available until 1 July
2004, there was no disadvantage in more work being done on the concept. As well, the matter can be considered as a stand-alone proposition and not have to be considered as
part of a package deal. The Union will be able to specifically consult the membership.

19) New Clause – Annual Leave Part 2 – Clause 7
2.7.1 (c). The parties recognise that, at the time that this Agreement came into force, the government had introduced new legislation governing holidays. When these new provisions come into force, the Fire Service will be required to demonstrate compliance with the intent and entitlements of the new legislation.

**Note:
These projects will be recorded in the Collective Employment Agreement. The Union and the Fire Service commit to participate in these projects in good faith and to genuinely cooperate to achieve the objectives referred to in the main body of the Heads of Agreement.

Any further clarification can be given at ratification meetings from Union officials present.

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