We have been receiving several inquiries from concerned members regarding the letters FENZ provided yesterday disestablishing FRMO roles and a notice of redundancy.
Yesterday FENZ unnecessarily caused our members significant stress and harm by wrongly claiming that the CRR and RR positions would be advertised next week, and that employees would have a better chance of redeployment if they put expressions of interest in early.
Last night FENZ Deputy Chief Executive, People Brendan Nally wrote to the NZPFU and PSA and corrected the mis-information (our emphasis):
“In relation to advertising the positions, the new CRR and RR Senior Advisor and Advisor positions are not being advertised next week. These positions have been ringfenced for redeployment for affected employees from specific positions including Fire Risk Management Officers, as was proposed in the consultation document. These CRR and RR Senior Advisor and Advisor positions will only be advertised to other employees once we have redeployed affected FRMOs via the expression of interest form/process, if there are still vacancies remaining at the end of that.”
“I can’t comment on what Bruce Stubbs may or may not have said, but it’s not a case of whoever gets their EOI in first gets the best redeployment opportunities. The EOI form simply asks people to indicate whether people would prefer to redeploy into a CRR position, or a RR position.”
“Please note that the EOIs will not close until after the decisions on the re-consultation have been made and communicated.”
And he referred to other positions within FENZ that will be advertised next week:
However, these employees are welcome to apply for other jobs as well, and that’s why we are drawing the advertising of the other jobs to their attention in these letters. The letter specifically states “termination of employment is a last resort and the next steps will be to explore alternative options with you” before outlining the range of redeployment options available under the next sub-heading.
In video conferencing today FENZ has claimed that it was legally bound to refer to section 30 of the Fire and Emergency Act 2017 and notify employees that the letter was notice of redundancy.
FENZ was not legally required to determine that strategy or take that path. FENZ could have chosen other paths.
FENZ has chosen to invoke section 30 in an attempt to remove the obligations to appoint on merit, and comply with its appointments and
review of appointments. These matters are at the heart of the NZPFU case before the Employment Court and are yet to be decided.
FENZ has also chosen this path as they want to be able to have the ability to claim they do not have to pay redundancy if the employee
does not accept re-deployment. There are serious legal issues in that strategy that are yet to be tested, their right to do that is not
accepted as there is yet to be consultation and negotiation that will impact on the outcomes. The NZPFU and PSA will have legal advice
every step of the way and take the necessary action to protect our members’ rights.
FENZ did not have to declare positions disestablished or issue a notice of redundancy at this time. FENZ has already notified of
consultation yet to take place and we are yet to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment for these positions. FENZ should have
waited at least until those matters were resolved and the redeployment processes agreed before sending out the letters. To do so
yesterday was unnecessarily cruel and heartless.
- We believe there were other options to progress the structural changes required and would have reduced the stress that members have felt with the release of the letters to them. There are several outstanding issues and some we will need to review legally with respect to the collective agreement provisions.
On Monday the NZPFU and PSA sent a joint email to FENZ setting out dates to meet to discuss the issues yet to be resolved and to commence bargaining for the terms and conditions of new positions.
After we followed up on the lack of response, National Commander Kerry Gregory responded yesterday afternoon with the following:
“We are not anticipating the need to bargain a variation to current collective agreements. However, we do recognise the need to discuss our views here, and consider your perspective if it differs from ours, before anything is decided. We are planning to write to you next week setting out how we think existing terms and conditions in collective agreements and HR policy applies to the new positions within coverage of your union’s collective agreements, and clarify, on that basis, exactly the terms and conditions we intend to offer for each of these new positions. This will also confirm which of the new positions we believe are within each collective agreement’s coverage clause.”
We are strongly of the view that FENZ must genuinely consult and negotiate. Again, we will be taking every lawful action to protect the rights of our members.
The National Commander’s statements clearly show the lack of preparation, and that consultation with the unions has not been completed, leaving members without appropriate information.
FENZ is expecting members to make decisions on various roles before outstanding matters are consulted on and terms and conditions
We have advised members not to engage in the expression of interest process for the CRR and RR roles as these critical matters are
yet to be resolved.
The NZPFU and PSA We are meeting with FENZ on the 30th June and 1 July to discuss these matters.
- Brendan Nally has confirmed (above) there is no advantage in participating early. We advise members there are serious disadvantages to participating when you don’t have key information about the roles.
The Unions have engaged with FENZ with our concerns and have reached out to arrange meetings to resolve the outstanding issues and negotiate the necessary variations to the agreements.
Members are reminded of the advice from our previous union update;
The reference to the “notice of your redundancy, as per section 30 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017” is an attempt to avoid
the requirement to appoint on merit, and avoid the appointments, vacancies and review of appointments policies and processes. These very
issues are subject to the NZPFU case that is currently before the Employment Court.
FENZ supported the case being heard by the Employment Court and appears to be attempting to undermine a judicial process. The NZPFU case
includes the application of those policies to all positions. The NZPFU legal team has been notified of the FRMO letters and preparing
The PSA and NZPFU do not accept FENZ’s 10 June 2020 letters are lawful or consistent with previous undertakings by FENZ.
- Members are advised not to take any action regarding the notice of redundancy or expressions of interest for new positions without union advice. The NZPFU and PSA will keep members informed by joint notices. You will not be disadvantaged by doing nothing at this stage but might undermine your legal position if you do act on 10 June 2020 letter at this stage.
WE WILL KEEP ALL MEMBERS INFORMED AND ENCOURAGE MEMBERS TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL UNION REPRESENTATIVE, DELEGATE OR UNION EXECUTIVE REPRESENTATIVE TO EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS OR FEEDBACK.
NZPFU National Secretary
PSA National Organiser