Yesterday the NZPFU publicly called out FENZ CEO Rhys Jones, National Commander Kerry Gregory who had decided with the support of the Senior Leadership group and the Board to disrespect the Employment Court by steaming ahead with appointment processes at the heart of the NZPFU case.

In our National Notice yesterday we likened their behaviour to organisational bullying, wedging employees fearful for their security of employment, into participating in an employment process that was yet to be determined by the Employment Court.

The NZPFU lawyers had commenced communications to lay the foundations for a legal process to challenge FENZ’s blatant disrespect of the Employment Court process and disregard for the impact that was having on its employees.

Last night FENZ CEO Rhys Jones has notified the NZPFU that “upon further advice and consideration, we have modified our approach and have decided we will continue with the recruitment process for the new District leadership positions up to the point of calling for, and receiving applications from all staff, but will not proceed to interviews until the decision of the Employment Court is received.”

The NZPFU legal team is seeking further assurances that FENZ will not be considering those applications or short-listing because to do so would be still proceeding with part of a process that is in dispute before the Employment Court.  We will keep members updated.

So – where does this leave our members? 

Our advice to members yesterday remains the same.  While FENZ has now put salary bands for the positions on the portal, that does not provide those applying with any certainty of what FENZ will offer them, or any other terms and conditions of employment.

As the positions are advertised we advised our members to apply and to include the following in their applications.  

1. FRMOs

Tuesday's National Notice provided advice for our members who are FRMOs.  In order to protect all of your rights regardless of any legal processes yet to proceed or be determined, FRMOs can engage in the expressions of interest process for the CRR and RR Advisor and Senior Advisor positions or apply for any of the other positions including Community Risk Manager and Risk Reduction and Investigation Manager with the following:

  • That the NZPFU has advised that as the Decision of the Employment Court is outstanding, FENZ should not be proceeding with any part of any appointment process including calling for expressions of interest or applications.
  • That it is unreasonable for FENZ to expect its employees to apply for positions where the terms and conditions of employment are not known including the salary and other relevant conditions.  As you are a member of a union which covers the work to be done, with collective agreements that cover your current position, it is a breach of good faith for FENZ to refuse to negotiate a variation or bargain the terms and conditions for the CRR and RR positions.
  • That it is unreasonable for FENZ to expect its employees to apply for positions where the terms and conditions of employment are not known including the salary and other relevant conditions. 
  • Explain any stress and/or pressure FENZ’s actions are causing and how that is affecting you.
  • Explain any concerns that you will be disadvantaged if you do not put in an expression of interest or make an application or a position now and are only participating at this time because of the pressure to do so within FENZ’s stated deadline.
  • Then state any position/s you are applying for expressing an interest in without prejudice to all the issues you raise including the union attempting to negotiate terms and conditions of employment.

2. All other members

We also encourage anyone who wants to apply for the district leadership positions (District Manager, Group Manager, Community Risk Manager, Risk Reduction and Investigation Manager) positions to do so and to include the advice of the union as set out below in their application.  

The decision document released this week demonstrates how low the bar is to qualify for those positions. They have stripped the requirement for qualifications and experience to accommodate those that would not be able to compete if appropriate qualifications and experience were required.

It is important that our members apply as FENZ intends to appoint personnel without qualifications or experience.  It is important we have members who have applied so they can challenge those appointments when personnel without appropriate qualifications or experience are appointed into these positions.    This is the safety of the community, and the health and safety of firefighters at risk.   

In any application we advise our members to include the following:

  • That the NZPFU has advised that as the Decision of the Employment Court is outstanding, FENZ should not be proceeding with any part of any appointment process including calling for expressions of interest or applications.
  • That it is unreasonable for FENZ to expect its employees to apply for positions where the terms and conditions of employment are not known including the salary and other relevant conditions. 
  • Explain any stress and/or pressure FENZ’s actions are causing and how that is affecting you.
  • Explain any concerns that you will be disadvantaged if you do not put in an expression of interest or make an application for a position now and are only participating at this time because of the pressure to do so within FENZ’s stated deadline.
  • Then state any position/s you are applying for expressing an interest in without prejudice to all the issues you raise.

Please be aware of the pressure and strain this process is taking on one another and reach out if you need assistance.  We remind our members that support including counselling and mental health support is available.  

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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