The Union issued notices to members on May 11 and 13, advising that the NZ Fire Service had just informed all of NZ’s 1600 professional firefighters that their jobs would be “disestablished” by July 1 – that is to say, they were being sacked.
The NZ Professional Firefighters Union (PFU) commenced a campaign to inform the public of the consequences of the management “restructure”, which features:
The reduction of S/O & 3 minimum crewing to S/O & 2 at most stations;
Between 100 and 300 professional firefighter jobs disappearing;
The introduction of 3 new rosters – all inferior in terms of firefighter conditions and community fire protection;
The mass sacking of all existing professional firefighters.
The “new” firefighter jobs on offer, with inferior wages and conditions, aren’t being made available to only the existing workers – they’re being offered to anyone and everyone in the country. This means that even though you may have been a firefighter with 20 years exemplary service, there’s a better than even chance that there won’t be room for you in the “new” service.
The PFU’s campaign has won overwhelming support for the firefighters’ cause around the country, causing some delays to the Fire Service’s plans. PFU members have managed to stand firm in the face of ongoing management provocation. They have refused to sign up for a new job; they have refused to go cap in hand to the bastard employers; they have refused to accept the reduced conditions and jobs on offer; they have refused to see the NZ public suffer through a chronic reduction in their fire services. In short – the PFU’s members have refused to surrender their unity, their principles or their dignity.
On July 2 the PFU filed a comprehensive application to the Employment Court and the High Court for injunctions against the mass sackings and the mass cuts to the NZ Fire Service. FBEU members must recognise that this, as the greatest attack yet on firefighter wages, conditions and jobs, affects us. The FBEU has so far forwarded $12 000, and the UFUA nationally over $30 000 to assist the PFU in its legal defence against the employers. We shall remain committed to providing whatever assistance – political, financial and industrial – is requested by the PFU.