Membership survey reveals FRMOs feel highly undervalued and not supported and don't think the new structure will improve community safety

The NZPFU and PSA have surveyed FRMO members to gauge their views of the Tranche 2B restructure, its purpose and process.

The results are sombre reading demonstrating FENZ has failed to be fair, reasonable or supportive through a flawed restructure proposal that, in the opinion of those that do the work, will reduce community safety.

  • The NZPFU PSA FRMO health check has revealed more than 83% feel not valued or highly undervalued and 75% feel they are not supported or highly unsupported by FENZ at this time. In comparison, before the September 2019 restructure document was released 53% felt they were not supported or highly unsupported, and 43% felt undervalued or highly undervalued.

  • The restructure has driven down morale with 86% feeling unsupported or highly unsupported and 86% finding the restructure process unfair and 60% finding it unclear.

  • Only 4.6% described FENZ as a fair and reasonable employer while 67% rated FENZ as not fair or reasonable or very unfair or unreasonable.

  • Not one FRMO feels very secure in their employment with 84% feeling not secure or highly insecure.  Not one FRMO believes they will be offered the position of their first preference and 70% are not secure or highly insecure they will be offered their first preference.

  • Nearly 40% of those surveyed have been employed by NZFS and FENZ for 21 years or more. Their vast experience in the roles have not been taken on board as only 4.6% believe the new structure will greatly improve fire risk management and community awareness and resilience while 37% see the restructure reducing those public safety goals.

  • Despite FENZ not intending to make anyone redundant, more than 18% of FRMOs would prefer to be made redundant and leave the job rather than be redeployed into one of the new roles.

The participants had the opportunity to add further comments which demonstrate the depth of feeling by many of the FRMOs, many of which are highly experienced and long-standing employees.

“The constant appointment of staff to Region and Advisor roles of people who don’t understand the role and have refused to engage with staff in the role has left most staff disillusioned because of the lack of meaningful and useful leadership… It appears our National Managers are simply listening to the ineffective Advisors what are not or never have been engaged with the FRMO role”.

“FENZ have heard what we have said but haven’t listened.”

“FENZ doesn’t understand the impact on communities they are causing. They are picking on the most dedicated employees.  I used to love to come to work, now, it sucks.”

“Multiple times concerns regarding the staffing levels and workload proposed in the risk management field at being glossed over.  The FRMOs that are currently working well beyond their contracts to “stop the ship sinking” are being duly ignored as poor decisions that have some very serious implications are being forced through.  Some of these decisions seriously expose both individuals and the organisation to serious consequences.  In the restructure people are being directed to positions that are beyond their skill set and will put them in a difficult position through no fault of their own.”

“I currently feel like I am one week away from complete burnout.  I’ve been pushing hard to get an ever-increasing workload completed…”

“There is a high chance I could no longer be doing the job I love and believe and am damn good at for it to be given to someone who has no idea about community education, no stakeholder relationship experience…”

“Am I being pushed aside to rot in the corner.”

“The process has happened upside down. The structure should have been sorted before putting the top levels in place. Managers are not supporting their staff as they are affected and in the lurch also.  It seems as if FENZ has not listened to the feedback we have been giving and decisions were already made.”

“I feel very disappointed and aggrieved in the process and lack of interest shown in the concerns raised to the SDLT.”

 “We were told at the Tranche 2 road shows that we should all apply for the new roles…so I applied to be told that I am not affected or impacted… as a seconded person you feel like tissue, you fix all the problems and clean up the mess then get thrown out.”

 “The restructure started off well but what they proposed was never thought through… the further FENZ got into the restructure, ideas and job allocations/positions started to change.”

 “Our very unique and specific skills and knowledge are not being valued or recognised.  It is very sad that after all this I believe that the most common phrase being used will be “I told you so”.

 “The whole process has been unreliable.  When the first document came out Kerry Gregory said there would be as many Senior Advisors as were qualified… there was no limit to the number of Senior Advisors appointed.  This changed and we heard from another region that he had changed his mind.  This was not communicated officially under the re-consultation document was released.”

 “At the end of all documentation from FENZ is the help available.  This was like an add-on as though they were going through a process… it ran like a “footer” at the document or VC.  They are ignorant of the pressure they have put on their employees and families”.

 “As a long serving member of Fire and Emergency and NZFS, I feel that my service and long-term commitment to the organisation counts for nothing.”

“We strive to improve, yet they do not follow what they say on the fancy poster.”

“I really struggle to believe that in the “co-design” the SMEs have been listened to as I firmly believe that we are in for some extremely tyring times while the obvious errors in the restructure become apparent and corrected.  I feel concerned as this does not need to happen if those that do the work are listened to.”

The NZPFU and PSA will be presenting the outcome of the survey to FENZ.

Prior to the survey we have been raising the unfair and unclear process and its hugely detrimental effect on employees and workplace but CEO Rhys Jones’ response was primarily that change “will inevitably create upset and anxiety”.  

Hopefully the evidence of the depth of impact on FRMOs and that most believe the new structure will not improve fire risk management or community preparedness will send a strong message to FENZ that they need to stop, re-think and not remain wedded to a structure that will be detrimental to the organisation and those that serve the community.

Today we wrote to FENZ CEO Rhys Jones, National Commander Kerry Gregory and DCE People Brendan Nally urging them to engage with your unions to discuss how we can address these concerns and reminding them that we have union leaders and subject matter experts ready to review the proposed structure and develop strategies to address the issues that are critical to the success of the new structure.

In unity,

Wattie Watson
NZPFU National Secretary

Keith McFadyen
PSA National Organiser

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