Minister Supports Union’s Stance regarding Diesel Emissions

"Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy has told the New Zealand Fire Service Commission to get extractor systems into all Stations and do it quickly”.

This very public rebuke to the Commission and Senior Management clearly vindicates the nion’s stance, strongly supported by affected members, to insist on the rapid installation of Diesel Fume Extraction Systems in those Stations presently without them. The evidence that diesel fumes are harmful is overwhelming. In fact, there is good evidence to suggest that fumes emitted by the newer Euro IV compliant diesel engines pose a greater threat to health than older “smoky” engines owing to the greatly reduced size of the particles in the exhaust fumes.
(Cytotoxicity and Inflammatory potential of Soot Particles of LowEmission Diesel Engines – Vol. 42, No.6 2008 Environmental Science & Technology).

It is difficult to remember when a Minister of Internal Affairs last publicly expressed his ispleasure at the actions (or in this case, the lack of action) by the Commission and Senior Management, and publicly directed them to take urgent remedial action.

If the Fire Service Managers persist in their short sighted and counter productive approach of disciplinary action against officers who are continuing to ensure appliances are parked outside ntil simple and inexpensive mitigation systems are put in place, the Union will ask the Minister to provide a statement in support of those officers.

High Court action by Fire against Auckland Local Officials and the Union thrown out

Newsletter No.12 – 22 May 2009 reported on this High Court action initiated against Jeff cCulloch and Boyd Raines (respectively the Auckland Local President and Secretary) and the Union.

The action pleaded various tort actions alleging conspiracy and intimidation of two Union members. he action revolved around the Auckland Local’s decision to ban acting up into two Deputy Chief Fire Officer positions over 08/09 Christmas/New year period. Two members ignored the ban and accepted acting up positions. Consequently these two embers were advised of the expectations that they abide by the policies and positions of the Union and the possible consequences of not abiding by them.

The High Court process is long, tortuous and expensive.

The Union’s position, as well as strongly arguing there was not conspiracy or intimidation, was that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to hear this case.

The Union’s position was that the ban was quite obviously a Strike and the law provides exclusive jurisdiction to the Employment Court to deal with all matters relating to Strikes.

In an oral judgment given immediately following a High Court hearing in Auckland on 10 May 2010 the Union’s position was completely vindicated.

Para 39 of the Decision:

“Accordingly I do not see the need to grant a stay with conditions attached.
This case is clearly within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Employment Court.
Accordingly, I order that this proceeding be struck out.”

It is unusual for the High Court to not reserve its decision after a hearing in order to more consider the evidence before it. To issue an immediate oral decision in favour of the Union clearly demonstrates the complete lack of merit in the Fire Service’s argument.

It is difficult to see how the lawyers employed by the Fire Service and the so‐called experts in Human Resources could have got this so wrong. At best they were blinded by their vindictive and punitive approach. his incompetence has no doubt cost the Fire Service tens of thousands of dollars in their legal costs as well as the $8,500.00 costs awarded to the Union.

The Union would expect an apology to be rapidly forthcoming to Jeff and Boyd from Mike Hall and any other Fire Service Managers involved in this sad and sordid affair.

High Court Judgment available at the Union’s Website.

Leadership Survey

Recently some members have been contacted by someone called Simon George advising they have been selected to participate in a Leadership Survey.

The Union has no knowledge of this survey and has not been consulted in any way about its content or purpose. Simon George apparently holds the position of “Principal Advisor Organisational Development”, seemingly another new position in Human Resources.

The Union notes that it appears in the last 12 months Human Resources has increased from around 16 positions to now 20 positions – more than 25%. It now includes such positions as:

  • Principal Remuneration & Performance Advisor
  • H.R. Project Manager
  • H.R. Support Analyst
  • H.R. Applications Analyst 
  • H.R. Reporting Analyst
  • Manager Remuneration & Organisational Development

and they are all there to help you as a front‐line operational firefighter and to assist you in serving your communities. Well – maybe.

This Leadership Survey is at best a job creation/retention scheme for all these bright young things in Human Resources.

Given all of this and the ways that similarly obtained information has been directly used against firefighters in the past, and non‐consultation with the Union, the Union strongly advises members not to participate in this survey.


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Season’s Greetings and Office Hours

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Ratification Meeting next Tuesday 13th Dec at 5pm

As you will be well aware by now, we have finally reached an agreed term of settlement in the negotiation for a new CEA. The NZPFU is recommending members accept it and ratify the settlement offer. The National Committee has completely wrung out the sponge for every possible drop of benefit to members, and it's now our turn to act.