The Auckland Local negotiators met with FRM Butt and AFRM Binning on Friday 7 December regarding progress on the change of Silverdale Station from Yellow Watch to Rotating Shift.
Members will be aware that the Union’s position on this change was that it should be implemented on 1 January 2008. Any realist would have understood that this was obviously going to be almost impossible to achieve and to expect it to happen on that date was pie in the sky.
The Union negotiators had taken a position that July 1 2008 would have been acceptable under the present circumstances and would have agreed to implementation on that date. However, after about an hour of discussion centring on the non response of the National Commander to the Union’s letter of 6 November 2007, the Auckland Regional Manager revealed that he had advised the National Commander that he could not recommend that the change from Yellow Watch to Rotating Shift occur before December 2008 at the earliest.
This was a bombshell to the Auckland Local negotiators who had been working on the discussions held with Cliff Mears over the previous 6 months which had always held 1 July 2008 as "the date".
When pressed as to why he had allowed the discussions to carry on for an hour before he revealed this treachery, his response was "Well I didn’t have to tell you at all".
The Auckland Local negotiators realised that there was no point in continuing the meeting and after a further short discussion, left the room.
Shortly after the meeting concluded, AFRM Binning advised the Auckland Local President that the reason FRM Butt had advised the National Commander in this manner was that he didn’t feel that he would be able to maintain MSM until that date, due to the number of vacancies in the Auckland Fire Region, and that staff numbers would not be sufficient until that date at the earliest.
The Auckland Local is gravely concerned that this is simply a ploy by the Fire Service to continually delay the implementation date, due to pressures from sources outside of the NZPFU.
Accordingly, the Auckland Local advises its members that from 0800 hours Wednesday 12 December 2007, "all non operational overtime will cease". This will include all Black Watch training courses, all instruction on 1 day courses, all USAR training which removes members from their normal shifts, or any action other than courses required under the CEA, or any other CEA obligations, which reduce the number of members available to carry out on shift overtime.
Members must realise that the priority for the NZPFU is to maintain MSM and to assure the National Commander that MSM can be maintained even if an additional 13 staff are required to allow the conversion of Silverdale Station to 24/7 rotating shift manning.
The Auckland Local is committed to the implementation date of 1 July 2008 and will continue working towards that goal.
We are concerned that the Union was prepared to keep our side of the bargain regarding Avondale, but as usual, the Fire Service was not prepared to show the same honesty and integrity in its dealings with us. This bad faith action by the Fire Service may cause the Union to reconsider its position on Avondale, unless the Fire Service is prepared to honour its previous timeline for Silverdale.
Members should prepare themselves for further action if the above instruction proves insufficient to convince the Auckland Regional Manager and the National Commander to revise their proposed dates for the change to 24/7 at Silverdale.
The Auckland Local Committee will meet in the near future to discuss "where to from here".