On 6-9 May 2019 members of the Auckland Local Committee were fortunate enough to represent our Local at a Special Conference held in Auckland. During this Conference we discussed a few key issues and listened to some guest speakers. Here is a summary of what we covered.

Northern Branch Meeting.

Branch meetings were held on day one. Some issues identified include:

  1. The efforts of the Auckland Task Force were discussed. It was noted that this will not necessarily be a $ fix it approach. All options are being looked at.As you should have seen in the 2nd survey, it’s a complex situation and there may be a combination of solutions. The response to the survey has been disappointing, however, if people haven’t taken the time to fill out the survey then it can be assumed that they are happy with how things are. Should any changes come about, it will be considered for roll out to the rest of the country.What that will look like is undecided.
  2. Mental Wellbeing Policy. How Region 4 is running their system for mental wellbeing is much better than what anyone else has, and that is down to Jim Ryburn. It has been brought up that there is a need for better assistance for Staff.
  3. For Northcom a name change from Communicators to Dispatchers, which is being supported by the Union and will be negotiated as an amendment to the CEA.
  4. All Locals are having similar issues with MSM, getting “bums on seats” can sometimes be a hassle and vacancies are not being filled with regularity.

Auckland Local vs the NZPFU.

At the Conference the National Committee explained the reasoning for reaching a resolution consistent with the outcomes of two meetings when the National Council met with members at Avondale Station and Papatoetoe station in April.

This matter has now been resolved through a full and final confidential settlement.

Operating Budget.

The Conference discussed the increased operating budget for FY 2018-19. This is a result of the second Conference, and the transition of the National Secretary position. Also discussed, an increase in the honorarium paid to Union Representatives and Super Trustees, to reflect the time spent conducting Union work. Also of paying for phones and internet for Local Secretaries, and fuel vouchers for Committee Members. This will be finalised at a later date, most likely the November Conference. It is also likely that the NZPFU will employ an Organiser, bringing us in line with almost every other Union in New Zealand.

The National Council is working on a draft national budget for consideration.

Psychological Wellbeing.

We listened to a great presentation from Josh Darby (SFF, Ellerslie Station). Josh is the 2017/18 Firefighters’ Scholarship recipient and author of a study into NZ Firefighter psychological distress, injury and suicide. Using New Zealand and international research, he has completed a fantastic study. This includes information such as:

  • Australian Firefighters are twice as likely as the general population to suffer PTSI.
  • US Firefighters are three times more likely to die of suicide than their general population.
  • It’s the cumulative effect that is dangerous, rather than one bad job. For that reason, retired staff, and Firefighters with 10+ years’ experience are at a higher risk of suffering harm.
  • Critical incident stressors, issues at home, and issues with workmates all play a role.
  • Josh’s paper is available for reading on Firenet.

Talk from Rhys Jones and Brendan Nally.

We had a question and answer session with the CEO and Deputy CEO (People). Some key take away points from this:

  1. ELT and Regional leadership will not necessarily be Professional Firefighters. They want people who are experienced with an inter-agency approach, such as natural disasters and the Nelson Fires. There is nothing written in the FENZ Act stating that the ELT need to have operational experience.
  2. Nally stated that in the future they may groom people for senior leadership positions from early in their careers.
  3. It was confirmed that NZ Police members who are seconded to FENZ will not wear our uniforma as it would have ramifications if required to undertake Police duties while in a firefighring union.

Tranche 2 Design.

Norm Gilroy, Blair Kylie (SSO, Hamilton) and Al Collett (SSO, Hutt Valley) talked about what our team have been up to in representing our position with the second tranche of designing FENZ. These three are conducting solid research in order to present strong, evidence based arguments for our position. They are happy to answer any questions from Members who want to ring and ask them. Some points:

Income Protection and Medical Insurance.

We listened to a presentation from a representative from Protect Income Protection Scheme. Protect provides injury and illness protection for Australian Workers, and for the last year has been covering Victorian Firefighters too, through their Union. Protect can put together a package for our Members that is tailored to our needs. The Union is investigating.

Training for Delegates.

A facilitator, Paul Pringle (https://www.cdanz.org.nz/profiles/pringle/161/), was used to help run some development for Conference delegates, and Union leadership are keen to continue to develop our Local Committee Representatives with training and mentoring. The training we received was pretty impressive for the tight timeframe that he had to work with. The Committee found Paul very interesting and helpful, and with Mental Wellbeing being such a multi-faceted issue we need many different ways to help us deal with issues that may arise.

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