Mike Hall Tries to Mislead

Further to the letter from the President of the Union yesterday, there have been comments on the CEO Mike Hall’s Notice on FireNet. The proposal in Mike Hall’s Notice has some inaccuracies, and at best is misleading.

The NZFS settlement proposal of 30 June 2011 states in bullet point 2, page 5: 

“Removal of any reference to alternative or flexible rosters, or any commitment to work on the introduction of alternative of flexible roster arrangements..”

While the employer did state that they could exclude this from the C.A., they also stated that they would require the Union to agree in writing to form a Working Group with timelines included to look at and recommend a flexible type roster system before the next round of negotiations next year.

In other words, although the flexible rosters were out of the C.A., they were in no way off the table as far as the employer was concerned.

What this means is that the proposal for a Working Party to develop Flexible Rosters would not form part of the Ratification Process, but would in any event proceed. Presumably this meets the Fire Service’s definition of bargaining in good faith.

Employment Court Decision

The Employment Court decision – interpreting the word “or” to mean “and” will be appealed to the Court of Appeal. This is expected to be filed today. The Union’s argument is that the Court had no power to stop a lawful strike and has exceeded its jurisdiction.

The Union further filed on Friday afternoon, seeking a ruling from the Court to require the Fire Service to enter urgent mediation on Monday 11 July. The Union had arranged for the same Mediator as previously used from the Department of Labour Mediation Services.

The Fire Service had indicated they would not attend. The reasons for their refusal to attend were:

  • Janine Hearn was unavailable all week;
  • It is apparently essential that the Fire Service’s full Bargaining Team be able to attend and two of the team will be out of the country all this week.

The Union sees this as clear indication of how the Fire Service views the whole bargaining process and why the taking of Industrial Action is necessary in order to resolve the dispute. As soon as the pressure of imminent industrial action is gone, the Fire Service refuses to negotiate.

In the Union’s view, the Court’s interpretation of the Bargaining Process Agreement, and its own powers, has deprived firefighters of your legal right to take Industrial Action, has frustrated the Bargaining Process, and has prejudiced the chance of reaching a fair C.A. Settlement.

The Union understands that the next date the Mediation Service has available is 21 July and the Union hopes the Fire Service representatives will not be too busy to attend.

The Employment Court Decision is attached.
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