Fire Service Harassment/Bullying of Union Officials – Fire Service Lose In Supreme Court

Further to NTM No. 32 – 17 December 2010.

The Fire Service has suffered its fourth defeat in its ridiculous and wrong pursuit of two Union Officials (Jeff McCulloch and Boyd Raines) arising of a Dispute in Auckland in 2008.

Two separate High Court Judges and the Chief Judge of the Employment Court agreed with the Union that the Fire Service’s complaint arose from or was related to a Strike. If there were any genuine issues of concern, these should have been raised in the Employment Court.

The Fire Service’s appeal to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the Employment Court Decision has been struck out.

This completely misguided legal action initiated by Fire Service senior management has completely failed; a completely inevitable conclusion and consequently the bullying/harassment has failed.

Costs have been awarded to the Union.

Costs Of Fire Service Response to Christchurch Earthquake – Does This Affect The Fire Service Ability To Pay A Fair Wage Increase?

The Fire Service has advised the total cost of the deployment of U.S.A.R. Teams to Christchurch and Japan is $8,009,746.

This cost is to be met from the Fire Service Levy – a levy on those persons who insure their property against fire. In effect therefore, the USAR response is provided free with no specific funding provided to the Fire Service.

What is more extraordinary is that the Fire Service Commission, presumably acting on advice from Fire Service management, have not had the wit to seek additional and separate funding from the government to meet this unfunded cost.

This requirement to meet an unfunded $8 million dollar liability obviously must impact on all aspects of Fire Service expenditure, including that necessary to provide a fair C.A. Settlement.

Can Fire Service Senior Managers Read?

a) U.S.A.R. Deployment Agreement

In 2002 the Union and the then Fire Service management negotiated and agreed a “Policy” regarding USAR and in particular USAR Deployments. This agreement has been honoured by management up until now.

The agreement is very clear as to recompense subsequent to deployments. The issue that seems to be in dispute relates to the time off to be provided.

The wording of the Agreement is very clear on this –

“N.Z.F.S. staff deployed on a USAR taskforce mission will be entitled to time off for rest and recuperation on their return from that mission.

This entitlement will be on a day for day basis unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. Any variation from the day for day provision is to be agreed between the individual, the Fire Service and the NZPFU liaison officer.”

There has been no agreement – let alone any discussion – with the NZPFU Liaison Officer to vary this provision. Somehow those very simple words have been interpreted by management (presumably H.R.) and promulgated by the C.E. to mean:

‐ Leave days will not be credited for rest days during deployment;
‐ Leave days are consecutive days.

Quite obviously “day for day” basis must mean consecutive days on deployment (all days) if the entitlement for time off is to be consecutive days; or

If the calculation is to be based on deployment working days, it means the time off entitlement must also be in working days.

In any event, this type of interpretation shows what Fire Service management (especially H.R. – noticeably absent in all matters surrounding the Christchurch Earthquake) really thinks about Operational Firefighters/USAR response – so don’t be fooled about all the complimentary/nice words spoken – pure hypocrisy.

The Union understands that Mike Hall is supposed to retire at the end of the year. It would seem that he has retired early. It’s about time to take an interest and step in to stop the out of control anti‐firefighter actions of at least some of his senior managers.

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