Despite notice of weekly strike action, FENZ is still refusing mediation with the NZPFU.
NZPFU members will again be striking for one hour from 11am to 12 noon tomorrow (Friday) across the country in their bid to settle the collective agreement negotiations with safe staffing and systems of work, appropriate physical and mental health monitoring and support, and fair pay and conditions. Friends, families, volunteers and other supporters will be joining the union’s demonstrations for that hour. All events and locations are available at https://www.firecrisis.nz/events/
FENZ has refused to continue mediation in the wake of its application in the Employment Relations Authority for facilitation.
It is extraordinary that the leadership of an emergency service would prefer to sit on their hands for four weeks refusing to negotiate while weekly strike action continues.
The parties last met on the 10th and 11th of August and FENZ is refusing to meet before its application for facilitation is heard by the Employment Relations Authority on the 12th and 13th of September.
The risk to the community during the hour-long strikes falls squarely on the shoulders of FENZ CEO Kerry Gregory, the Executive Leadership Team and the Board chaired by Rebecca Keoghan.
At the last mediation session FENZ did not state at mediation that they were walking away or that they thought the process was exhausted. FENZ unilaterally walked from the private mediation process despite leaving the last meeting undertaking to provide a response to the NZPFU claims and the parties asking the mediator to explore avenues to resolve some long standing issues. FENZ had previously agreed to private mediation conducted by former Employment Court Chief Judge Graeme Colgan with the process including a high-level group to be called upon if either party had issues with the manner or progress of the discussions. FENZ did not follow that process before filing in the ERA.
The Employment Relations Act specifically provides that the parties can continue to use other avenues in order to progress the bargaining pending an application for facilitation, and that can continue even if facilitation is ordered. The Mediator has been willing to continue and has provided dates of his availability but FENZ is refusing to participate in mediation.
- While the Employment Relations Authority is hearing the FENZ application under urgency, it is not known when a Decision would be made. At the very earliest that could be the 13th September 2022.
- There is no guarantee that FENZ will be successful in their application and therefore nothing will have progressed for a month.
- Even if facilitation eventuates, the dates will have to be scheduled causing more delays.
- There is no guarantee that facilitation will result in resolving the issues. The facilitator can only make non-binding recommendations and there is no guarantee that FENZ would agree to any recommendations.
- The only guarantees are delays as FENZ push for an expensive and lengthy legalistic process.
FENZ is now not only rolling the dice on public safety every day with staff shortages and failing appliances and equipment, it is ensuring there is no chance of averting the notified strike action.