Most members would have seen the news of the appointment of Wattie Watson as your new Secretary – this is really good news for the Union and its members.

The appointment was consequent on my indicating that I was happy to step aside from the position to allow a smooth succession.

I have been with the Union and its members for well over 30 years. I have been re-elected unopposed for at least 9 Elections.

The Union was a very different organisation when I started.

The National Union formed in 1987. It had virtually no assets (money) – we lived from hand to mouth. Now the Union is financially very sound.

The hourly rate for a SFF was around $7.40 – for a SO around $8.15.

The Super Scheme did not exist.

There was no alternative Holiday for working on a Stat Day.

There was no reference at all to Occupational Health & Safety.

The Collective Agreement was less than half the size of the present CA.

Massive improvements for Firefighters have occurred over the last 30 years.

Members will recall the events of the 1990’s – all Firefighters sacked – telling them they could apply for new jobs (about 1/3 less) and on significantly inferior conditions.

The Union fought and won that Dispute – and very many Firefighters employed today would not have a job if it wasn’t for members and the Union back in the 1990’s.

Would we win such a fight today? I hope so but social media would not help.

The improvements as above did not happen out of the goodness of the employer’s heart. They have had to be struggled for – Industrial Action was very common.

Compare that with this years CA Settlement – very significant gains made – gains that would have been unthinkable only a short time ago – gains made without the need to take Industrial Action.

Well, I could wallow in nostalgia and tell war stories for days. There are some great people met and events that have occurred.

Thank you to the dozens of members and ex members who have emailed and text offering thanks and best wishes – This is very much appreciated.

However the future is what is most important – there are still many challenges ahead.

With Wattie and Ian Wright (as Secretary & President) you are all well equipped with experienced and capable leaders. They have the resources to achieve their goals.

The Union Committee is also experienced and capable. There is no substitute for experience.

New younger (relatively speaking) leaders are emerging and contributing. All Committee members make a tremendous contribution but Committee members for the future include Greg Lee and Norm Gilroy. It is also great to get an outside Wellington perspective.

All your officials – both National and Local – deserve the utmost respect. Pretty much voluntary they spend hours and hours fighting for members. They most certainly do not deserve the vile abuse that they sometimes get. Maybe just occasionally the Keyboard Warriors should put their money where their mouth is.

Finally – I did not open Ballot Boxes without the presence of a Scrutineer – this is a lie.

  • I did not suggest that someone kill themselves – this is a lie.
  • Firefighters are not benchmarked to airport baggage handlers – this is a lie.

And so the list could go on but I was on the grassy knoll when JFK was shot.

Virtually everything reported on Social media/Facebook is simply untrue made-up lies.

I know that members are too smart to fall for this destructive anti-Union bullshit.

I wish the Union and its members all the very best – the challenge arising out of the Integration alone are immense.

Stay strong, keep fighting, and support each other: 34 years have gone very quickly.


Derek Best

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