Firefighters to strike over understaffing, low wages

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 05, 2022 |

File photo: Chris Lynch

Professional firefighters across New Zealand will strike later this month.

The strike action will occur at all fire stations, district offices, regional offices and training centres for one hour.

NZPFU said the action, in part, was due to Fire and Emergency failing to recognise a 2018 agreement, where firefighters were required to attend medical incidents.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand firefighters respond to 96% of all of St John’s out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

NZPFU National Secretary Wattie Watson said, “FENZ was still attempting to limit the circumstances requiring consultation and to limit the situations where the Union can raise a dispute where FENZ has failed to appropriately consult.”

Fire and Emergency Deputy National Commander Brendan Nally said it was disappointing the New Zealand Professional Firefighters’ Union had decided on strike action.

He said, “a substantial new pay offer was offered which would see base salaries for all firefighters increase by between 8 and 19 percent over the next two years.”

He said “Fire and Emergency demonstrated it’s fully committed to trying to reach a settlement with the union.

After over 13 months of negotiations, involving 29 days of bargaining and three days of mediation, the union has not significantly moved from its original position.”

“Our new offer is substantially more than our previous offer and reflects our strong desire to reach a settlement”

Nally said “during the one-hour full strikes we will continue to respond to emergencies. Within areas served primarily by career firefighters, the response may be with fewer firefighters than usual, and response may be delayed.

For the rest of the country, volunteers from our 596 fire stations nationally will respond to emergencies as they do now and provide the services they are trained to do.”

The United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) Board Chair, Hon. Peter Dunne said “whilst this is a disappointing situation to be in, communities of Aotearoa New Zealand can continue to rely on the excellent service from their volunteer firefighters.”

“Volunteer firefighters make up 85% of Fire and Emergency’s frontline workforce and respond to emergencies across 95% of New Zealand’s land mass. These volunteer firefighters will continue to respond to their communities as normal during this strike action.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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