On Friday 25 January 2008 the Auckland Local lodged a formal dispute with the Department of Labour Mediation Service over the Fire Service insistence that they can arbitrarily direct members to attend Black Watch or any other training courses without that member’s consent, outside the provisions of Part 2 Clause 2 of the CEA which outlines the only mandatory courses for firefighters.

The reaction from the Fire Service was for FRM Butt, at the meeting held in Regional Office on Friday 25 January, to acknowledge the existence of the dispute.

At approximately 1830 hours on Saturday 26 January the Auckland Local President received an e-mail from McBride Davenport James, the Fire Service Lawyers, that had been sent at around 1700 hours on Friday 25 January, stating that they did not believe that any grounds for a dispute existed, that the Union’s view of the peace obligation was incorrect, and that the course should continue.

Being the fair, right-minded people that they are, they then generously offered to postpone the course, provided the parties attend urgent mediation in the coming week. The Course had already been postponed at 1600 hours on the afternoon of Friday 25 January, on the orders of FRM Butt.

Considering that it was the Union who applied for mediation, and urgency is nearly always granted to emergency service applications, we did not think this request was unreasonable.

However, two paragraphs later, the threats began.

“In the event agreement is not reached at the mediation and the NZPFU and its members maintain their current stance, then the NZFS will seek urgent legal relief, which is likely to include seeking an interim injunction from the Employment Court”

At 1700 hours on Friday 25 January the Auckland City Central Fire District Management, on the orders of FRM Butt, after postponing the Train the Trainers Course scheduled for 29 January, proceeded to issue transfer notices to firefighters at Parnell Station directing them to transfer to Black Watch to attend a Type 5 training course on 11 and 25 February 2008, which none of them had applied for.

The Auckland Local has now been advised that mediation will take place at 1000 hours on Friday 1 February at the Department of Labour Mediation Service offices in Wellington. Members will be advised as soon as possible of the outcome of the mediation hearing.

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