May 13, 1998

I write further to Monday’s notice advising that NZ Fire Service management had written to each of the 1700 professional firefighters last Thursday telling them they had been sacked. Not surprisingly, the NZ Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) was not very impressed – least of all the sacked members! The NZPFU has retaliated with a public and legal campaign of opposition to the mass sacking of its membership, which is what most people might expect a Union which was fighting to save its membership’s job to do. Not management though!

Chairman disappointed by firefighters’ response

Wellington: The firefighters’ union is thwarting a chance to discuss modernisation of the Fire Service and a move away from “old-fashioned, ineffective ways”, Fire Service Commission chairman Roger Estall said yesterday.

“The response of the paid firefighters’ union to the start of the [three-week] consultation process on the modernisation of the Fire Service is a total disappointment”, Mr Estall said.

How would you like 3 weeks to argue for your career after you’d been sacked en-masse without warning? Mr Estall is ‘disappointed’ because the sacked firefighters seem to want to keep their jobs. Is that Roger Estall speaking, or Chris Corrigan?

If any member is still in doubt as to why our Union has been so strident in our support of the MUA throughout the waterfront dispute, consider this:

  • For the last 3 years, NSWFB management has been pushing the very same “move from suppression to prevention” garbage that the NZ  Fire Service is now using to justify sacking its entire ‘old skill sets’ workforce;
  • the NSWFB is roughly 2-3 years behind the NZFS in this ‘smoke alarms’ and ‘customer focus’ non-operational drive. A case of NZ today, NSW tomorrow?
  • the tactics used by the NZFS to de-unionise the Service are exactly the same as that used by Patrick Stevedores to gut the MUA. Auckland University law professor Bill Hodge had this to say about the firies’ sackings on Monday:

    the decision is an anti-union motive, which is similar to the argument used in Australia recently, and there isn’t a genuine reorganisation but a removal of conditions unilaterally.

More to follow shortly. Don’t get angry – get organised!

Chris Read,

State Secretary Wednesday 13th May, 1998