FENZ spends more than $175,000 and three years on investigation that has yet to be completed

In April this year an investigation into complaints made by firefighters against management behaviour at one station ticked over its three year anniversary.  By 30 April this year FENZ had spent $174,428.39 excluding GST on the investigation – more than $162,000 was paid to the investigator and $11,662 spent on staff travel and accommodation.  Those that were directly involved and interviewed have not been told anything.  There is still no report or outcome.

This is another example of the abject failure of FENZ to conduct a fair and proper investigation in a timely manner.  Members have approached the NZPFU stating not having any outcome to their complaints is causing them stress and distress.  The lack of process is in itself causing harm let alone resulting from the alleged conduct and behaviour complained about.

The NZPFU has repeatedly requested updates and an outcome.  Here are some of the most recent responses from FENZ:

  • On the 7th May 2021 I raised the investigation at a monthly meeting.  That afternoon I received the following forwarded from the Region Manager who is the sponsor of the investigation:
“This is a very complex investigation involving multiple people and issues, however we regretfully acknowledge that this work has taken longer than anyone would have liked. There are a number of factors that have driven this. I assure you it is the investigation team’s intention to get to the core of the issues of concern... that are believed to have affected your members. The substantive work is completed. The investigation team is currently preparing the draft report for consultation with affected parties. You can be assured that everyone looks forward to a conclusion as soon as possible.”
  • On the 17th May 2021 in response to a further request for information we received the following:
“ This matter has taken some time to address. There are a number of factors that have driven this, including that it is a complex investigation involving multiple people and issues. I assure you it is the investigation team’s intention to get to the core of the issues of concern... that are believed to have affected your members. The substantive work is completed. The investigation team is currently preparing the draft report for consultation with affected parties. At this point we do not have a clear timeframe for completion, but you can be assured that everyone looks forward to a conclusion as soon as possible.”
  • On the 2nd July in response to a further request from the NZPFU we received the following from the CEO Rhys Jones:
“These investigations are by their nature complex and it is important that the drafting of the report is carefully considered to ensure it fairly captures the investigation process.  This takes time.
I am advised a plan is now in place to consult with persons affected by the report.”
 
  • We checked with our members and none of our members had been contacted or updated. So we asked again stating our members had either been deliberately mislead or the CEO was misinformed.  His response received today:
“We are currently confirming the details of the next steps in the process, and therefore I am unable to provide any detailed comment at this time. I will update you more substantively as soon as practicable.”

We have also repeatedly asked who is responsible and who will be made accountable for this serious failure.  FENZ including CEO Rhys Jones just ignores those questions.

In desperation for a conclusion we have made a complaint to Worksafe.

We will keep members informed of any progress or result.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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