The NZPFU National Committee met by teleconference this afternoon to discuss the Employment Court decision which was issued last week.  The NZPFU’s legal team had considered the decision and provided their opinion to the National Committee.

As a result the National Committee has determined to seek leave to appeal the Employment Court Decision.

In these cases we do not have the automatic right of appeal and have to be granted leave to appeal.  We are confident that we have strong grounds to seek such leave.  If leave is granted the matter will be heard before the Court of Appeal.

It is important that we continue to take all reasonable action open to us to protect safe systems of work and our members’ contractual and employment rights including security of employment.  We realise that the legal process can be daunting but we have a strong legal team and the National Committee has appropriately sought advice and acted with that advice.   

We also understand that the NZPFU application and possible appeal will throw up questions about the restructure process.

This afternoon FENZ National Commander Kerry Gregory sent an email informing staff that FENZ had commenced the Confirmation of Relevant Experience process for the District Manager, Group Manager and Community Risk Manager positions today and had commenced the redeployment process for Risk Reduction and Community Readiness and Recovery Advisory roles today.  This is despite FENZ earlier stating they would respect the court process.    

We have written to FENZ informing them that they cannot act on the Employment Court Decision until either the deadline for applying for leave to appeal has expired, or any appeal has been heard.  It was later in the afternoon the National Committee met and decided to proceed with seeking leave to Appeal.  Our legal team have also been advised of FENZ’s email today and will take any appropriate action.

FENZ did not flag or discuss with the NZPFU or other unions their intention to proceed, let alone to start today.  In fact they have proceeded even before notifying staff as they only notified staff at 2.30pm that the processes were already underway today.  

Once again this is evidence that FENZ does not live by its own values or code of behaviour including “we do the right thing”, “we strive to improve” or “we are better together”.  

FENZ decided to send out that email, deliberately not informing the unions and associations, with complete disregard for employees and their mental health.  They did so after FENZ CEO Rhys Jones, National Commander Kerry Gregory and DCE People Brendan Nally received a detailed email this morning with the outcome of the NZPFU and PSA FRMO survey.  A copy of the joint national notice detailing the survey can be read here.  That survey showed that nearly 40% of all FRMOs have been employed by NZFS/FENZ for 21 years or more:

  • 83% do not feel valued or feel highly undervalued and 75% feel they are not supported or highly unsupported as a result of the restructure process.  
  • Not one FRMO feels very secure in their employment with 84% feeling not secure or highly insecure. 
  • Not one FRMO believes they will be offered the position of their first preference and 70% are not secure or highly insecure they will be offered their first preference.
  • Only 4.6% described FENZ as a fair and reasonable employer while 67% rated FENZ as not fair or reasonable or very unfair or unreasonable.

Despite receiving that email today FENZ CEO Rhys Jones, National Commander Kerry Gregory and DCE People Brendan Nally found no reason to reassess the plan but to proceed today without warning.  We have fielded calls this afternoon from alarmed members who feel completely disrespected and demoralised by Kerry Gregory’s email.  Today’s tactic by FENZ has caused unnecessary stress and harm to those employees that FENZ had been informed were struggling.

These are uncertain and stressful times for many.  Please do feel alone in your struggles.  Please ask for help from your union representative or you may want to ask your family member/colleague to get in touch with us to discuss the options for support.  You can also go direct to your manager to access support. 

Please be aware of all you work with and how current circumstances may be impacting on them.  As NZPFU members we are together strong.  

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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