Auckland Local President of the Firefighters Union, Jeff McCulloch said today, that “firefighters would be carrying out a protest and picket at the opening ceremony on Friday 11th September, of the new $4.9 million dollar Mt. Roskill fire station”.

Jeff said that “the protest was for a number of reasons, the main one being lack of progress on the pay talks which have been stalled since January. It also is to bring to the governments attention the disgust firefighters feel at the excessive cost of the new station, and at the interference of the government, which does not contribute 1 cent to the running of the New Zealand Fire Service, but has veto rights over any claim for wages or conditions of employment of firefighters, which it has exercised”.

He said that “the State Services Commission had put the blocks on an agreement which had been proposed by the Fire Service, which was less than the recent settlement the Police had received, but which may have been received favourably by firefighters.

It is expected that the Prime Minister will open the new station, and we intend to see that he gets the message from firefighters that we do not appreciate the interference of his government which is reminiscent of the previous National Government which sacked all the firefighters in New Zealand and tried to re-employ them on lesser conditions and longer hours”.

Jeff said that “Mr. Key should remember what happened when the sackings went through the judicial process, and what happened subsequently to the government”.

He said that “we are also very disturbed by the Fire Service reneging on a number of promises to increase staffing for the soon to be built Te Atatu station, and the relocation of Ponsonby fire station, and also the 24/7 manning of Silverdale station. It seems to be the trend of the Fire Service now that the government has changed, to go back on all of the previous agreement about station manning and staff placements”.

The protest will commence at 11-30 am Friday 11th September 2009, the eighth anniversary of the deaths of 343 FDNY firefighters in the World Trade Centre. NY.

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