FENZ CEO Rhys Jones and National Commander Kerry Gregory with the backing of the Senior Leadership team and the Board have decided to continue with its Tranche 2 and 2B appointment processes.  This is a blatant attempt to steamroll over our members rights and demonstrates that FENZ is doing everything it can to avoid appointing on merit of those most suited for these management positions that directly impact on the safety of the community and the health and safety of firefighters.

Yesterday the NZPFU legal team began the process to challenge FENZ’s actions and this may involve further litigation. We will keep members’ informed.

FENZ’s claim that it will shortlist and interview for the District Manager positions but won’t make a “decision” until the Employment Court decision is known is disrespecting the legal process as it will only be considering those “affected” for those jobs.  It is steaming ahead with the very processes that are yet to be determined as lawful by the Employment Court.

By doing so FENZ is also now wedging FRMOs to express an interest in the Risk Reduction or Community Readiness roles.  FENZ’s attitude is if you don’t apply/express and interest now then you won’t get an option at the end of the process – we will either determine where you should go or should be made redundant.

FENZ’s actions are heavy-handed and a form or organisational bullying where FENZ is putting employees under great pressure to apply for positions despite not declaring the terms and conditions including salaries, refusing to negotiate variations to collective agreements and knowing that the Chief Judge’s decision on the very process they are using is pending.  They are using the uncertainty and stress of a restructure to pressure staff to apply for positions through a process that is the heart of a legal challenge.  FENZ is determined to ride roughshod over its staff.

FENZ last week did a song and dance about releasing a code of conduct.  It repeatedly chants values as mantras.  This is just hype and tokenism as the CEO, National Commander, the Senior Leadership Team and the Board do not apply those values to their conduct or how they treat their staff.

“We do the right thing”

Yeah, right!

FENZ’s actions demonstrate they don’t care about the stress or pressure they are placing their staff under.

We do. 

We are challenging FENZ’s approach but we also understand that regardless of legal processes our members need some sense of control or guidance for their personal circumstances when they have been provided letters stating their positions are disestablished and they are “redundant” unless FENZ offers them re-deployment. 

We understand the pressure for our members to apply or put in expressions of interest even though they have not been told the salaries or terms of conditions of employment.  We know our members respect the Employment Court process but fear they will be left without options when FENZ is not respecting that process and steaming ahead with appointment processes.

1. FRMOs

Our national Notice yesterday 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.

Our membership generally is really concerned with FENZ’s intention to employ unqualified and inexperienced personnel into roles that will directly impact on health and safety and the management of stations and operations.  Critical qualifications and experience that underpin sound and safe decisions on the incident ground are not respected by FENZ.  Their appointment processes and very low grade selection criteria is designed to destroy the professionalism of firefighting.  The decisions released this week confirm there is no respect for qualifications or the years of experience required to achieve professional ranks.  The risk to the community and to the health and safety of firefighters is evident.

This is a stressful time for all, and in particular our FRMOs.  Please be aware of that stress and strain in your communications with each other.  Please ask for any help needed including access to counselling or mental health support.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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