Last Friday (15th March 2024) NZPFU Tauranga and Kawerau Local Secretaries and Presidents and I met with National Commander Russell Woods, District Manager Jeff Maunder and Workplace Relations Senior Advisor Mike Todd in Tauranga.

The meeting was productive and resulted in both parties have a greater understanding of the other’s positions and basis for that position.

The key barrier to resolution has been FENZ’s legal advice that the current arrangements for filling Tauranga vacancies is unlawful.  The NZPFU does not agree with that analysis or the risks FENZ is concerned about and has sought a copy of that legal advice.

The NZPFU’s view is that this matter can be resolved by determining the appropriate establishment for Tauranga, and that given there is to be an increase in ratios through the Staffing Working Party it is unnecessary and likely to be unwise to move away from current arrangements at this time.  The NZPFU is willing to consider sunset arrangements to ensure the expectations of current Kawerau staff movement to Tauranga is honoured once a better understanding of any changes to the Tauranga establishment are confirmed.  Long term there needs to be formal discussions on the staffing for the Bay of Plenty region including consideration of the support needed for volunteer brigades, appropriate locations for stations and recognition of the isolation of Tairawhiti which is heightened in extreme weather events.

The actions to be taken as a result of the meeting are:

  • FENZ has undertaken to provide to the NZPFU a copy of the legal advice it has regarding the current arrangements for filing vacancies, and generic calculation comparisons for costings of permanent staffing and overtime staffing.
  • FENZ will consult with its legal advisor on the risks of advertising the two vacancies in Kawerau under the current arrangements.  FENZ will notify those vacancies unless it determines the risks to the organisation are too great.
  • Two current secondments from Kawerau to Tauranga will be extended if desired by the secondees.
  • FENZ will also consider recruiting to maximise opportunities to for Kawerau Locals and those living in nearby towns to be recruited into Kawerau.   
  • A previous agreement to review the current station preference scheme will be actioned through representatives of the Kawerau and Tauranga Locals and District Management first reviewing the TOR.

FENZ has undertaken to provide the above information and its position on the two Kawerau vacancies by the end of April 2024.  The review of the current station preference scheme can take place simultaneously and does not require waiting for the information to be provided or for FENZ’s legal advice to be updated.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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