The NZPFU has been getting complaints from members (trainees and trainers) that they are being required to travel to courses outside of their usual hours and are not being paid the correct rate for that travel time.

The NZPFU has notified two disputes to enforce the collective agreement for travel entitlements for those training (trainees) and the trainers under Part 2 (Clause 2.6.14 and Clause 2.6.15) and Part 4 (Clause 3) of the FENZ NZPFU collective agreement. In addition there is a Training Course Arrangements Policy.  If there is any ambiguity between specific provisions in the policy and the agreement, then the collective agreement applies.

FENZ has increasingly required trainees and trainers to travel after hours and on weekends to and from courses.  The collective agreement for both Part 2 and Part 4 provide for the payment of overtime when FENZ is requiring members to work additional hours.  Depending on where the trainer or trainee lives, the travel to NTC can take a day.  Those claiming overtime are being told they are not entitled, some have been told not to claim.  Some of our members’ have reported feeling bullied and humiliated when they are attempting to enforce their contractual rights.

The situation is exasperated by the electronic pay claim system which has resulted in some claims being denied.  Prior to the claims being handled centrally they were being accepted.   There also appears to be variations around the country.

The process of a dispute is for the parties to meet and discuss the issues with a view to resolving the matter.  If it can’t be resolved then the matter may be taken further through more formal litigation processes.  

In the interim we advise our members that the following is the NZPFU position:

1. Everyone attending training courses are covered by Part 1 of the collective agreement which sets out specific entitlements for those required to live away from home, and those continuing to live at home during the course.

2. If you are employed/seconded as a trainer then Part 4 of the collective agreement applies. 

  • Black watch hours are 0700 to 1800 Monday to Friday with no more than 1 hour for lunch.
  • If you are being asked to change those hours to accommodate travel to training courses then that change must be with your agreement.  Being sent pre-determined travel arrangements and being told to adjust your hours of work to enable that travel is not by agreement. There are some trainers that travel at a time that is mutually beneficial and that can still continue provided it is with the trainer’s agreement.
  • If the trainer agrees to travel outside of the 0700-1800 Monday to Friday black watch hours but in doing so does not exceed 40 hours, they are paid their hourly rate.  
  • If the trainer agrees to travel outside of the 0700-1800 Monday to Friday black watch hours and in doing so exceed 40 hours then they are paid at a rate of 1.5 for the hours over 40 hours.

3. If you are a Firefighter/Officer training or a trainer for the specific course, the Black Watch hours apply to the course:

  • If you travel to the course outside of your rostered hours then the overtime (rate of 1.5 ) applies.
  • If the course is three days or longer then while you are on the course you will be training on black watch hours (0700 to 1800 Monday to Friday with no more than 1 hour for lunch and overtime over 40 hours).  
  • There is a requirement that you have two clear rest days between the end of the last on-duty shift and the start of training, and two clear rest days after training before the first on-duty shift.   This is to transition from a coloured watch roster to the black watch hours and back again.   You can choose to travel during those rest days but cannot be forced to travel during those rest days.  If you travel on those rest days, or in addition to black watch hours, then overtime (rate of 1.5) for that travel time is to be paid.  The other option is to advise your facilitator that you do not agree to travel outside of your working hours and therefore (unless other arrangements can be agreed) your travel will have to be accommodated within the black watch hours of 0700 to 1800 Monday to Friday.

We will also be raising anomalies in training entitlements, and the way training is dealt with in the collective agreement, through bargaining.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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