Union calls out FENZ as negotiations fall apart

Union alleges FENZ refused to talk on topics other than renumeration

Union calls out FENZ as negotiations fall apart

The union of professional firefighters in New Zealand has accused the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) of refusing to give room for bargaining on other topics aside from renumeration.

This led to the falling out between talks between both parties, according to the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union in a statement.

The talks followed the overwhelming rejection of NZPFU members on FENZ's previous offer back in April.

But NZPFU national secretary Wattie Watson said it seemed like FENZ did not understand the significance of the union members' previous rejection to their offer.

"FENZ did not appear to understand the significance of that rejection as the FENZ representatives arrived with an intractable position that it would only engage in discussions if the NZPFU reduced its wages and allowances claims and even then would only discuss remuneration," explained Watson in a statement.

"FENZ refused to answer whether it had any enhanced position but still expected the NZPFU to lower or drop its claims in that context," the official added. "Both parties were not prepared to move on the remuneration issue."

Due to this, Watson said their end decided to move on to other important topics, such as staffing ratios and recognition of firefighters with occupational cancers.

"We were hopeful that we could make some progress and resolve these issues at least given FENZ has agreed the staffing ratios are not high enough and in the past has repeatedly publicly stated its recognition of firefighters' occupational cancer," said Watson.

Read more: Firefighters to strike after rejecting collective employment agreement

But even then, the national secretary said FENZ was "intractable in its refusal to discuss anything other than remuneration and only then if the NZPFU reduced its wage and allowances claims."

Watson slammed FENZ's move as "obstructive and contrary to the requirements to bargain in good faith."

"In accordance with the Employment Relations Act to bargain in good faith includes that where the parties have come to a standstill on an issue, they must continue to bargain in good faith on other matters they are yet to reach agreement," said Watson.

"The NZPFU requested further mediation meetings be set down this week in the hope that some matters could be resolved," it added. "FENZ refused again stating it would not be meeting or discussing any issues until it had received a revised remuneration proposal from the NZPFU."

Watson said no other negotiations or meditation meetings have been scheduled between both parties.

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