Firefighters reject ‘disrespectful’ pay offer

Photo: RNZ
Photo: RNZ
A senior Dunedin firefighter has labelled an overwhelmingly rejected pay offer as "disrespectful and completely unsatisfactory".

More than 99% of New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) members rejected a pay offer from Fire and Emergency New Zealand yesterday, while 93% voted in favour of strike action.

Of the 1413 ballots cast, only seven members voted to accept Fenz’s offer.

NZPFU Southern branch local secretary and Senior Station Officer Mark Leonard said one main issue was new firefighters started on little more than minimum wage.

This was one reason why it was hard to recruit new firefighters, he said.

A notice of industrial action would likely be issued in the next few days.

The rejected offer was "disrespectful and completely unsatisfactory" after 11 months of negotiation. Hopefully the issue would go to mediation and the Government would be forced to intervene, he said.

NZPFU national secretary Wattie Watson said the union had asked for an 18% pay rise over three years.

She said under the Fenz offer, the bulk of members (more than two thirds) would receive a 1.5% pay rise lasting for two years. They had not received any increase since July 1 , 2020.

Fenz chief executive Kerry Gregory said firefighters did a fantastic job of keeping the public safe and faced physical and psychological challenges as part of what they did.

He was surprised to hear through the media firefighters so committed to serving their communities were considering taking strike action which could put people and property at risk.

Mr Gregory said the overall increase for staff was 3.3% which was split up, meaning some junior firefighters would receive an 11% pay rise, while the two grades above the juniors would receive a 7.5% increase.

As an emergency response organisation, Fenz would be carefully considering its approach to keeping the public safe during this time by initiating contingency plans, Mr Gregory said. — additional reporting RNZ

oscar.francis@odt.co.nz

 

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