Firefighters issue further strike notices

Firefighters outside Willowbank station, Dunedin, during a previous nationwide one-hour strike....
Firefighters outside Willowbank station, Dunedin, during a previous nationwide one-hour strike. File photo: Peter McIntosh
Firefighters have issued further strike notices, just hours after today's industrial action was called off.

The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) said this afternoon further strike notices had been issued for November 21, 25 and 28.

The union was working to set up talks with Fenz, but had issued the strike notices so it could take further action if necessary, the statement said.

The decision to call off today’s stoppage came after the Government provided a proposal which would assist further negotiations, the statement said.

The two parties were in discussions to set up negotiations next week. 

"The NZPFU wants to resolve the bargaining, but we also need to be prepared in case we do not make the necessary progress this week," the statement, attributed to NZPFU national secretary Wattie Watson, said.

This morning, the NZPFU said the national committee had withdrawn the full stoppage of work, scheduled to take place between 11am and noon today.

Ongoing behind the scenes action that does not affect emergency response is set to continue, the union said in a statement.

"Over the past 24 hours there has been movement with the Government putting up a proposal that would assist with settlement.  But that proposal alone will not settle the systemic issues including staffing, safe systems of work, health and wellness and the low wages.

"Fire and Emergency New Zealand has not offered a cent more . . . We welcome the assistance of the Government which will be needed to settle these systemic issues but Fenz has to front up and change its position so that collectively there is a responsible and reasonable settlement."

Fenz Chief Executive Kerry Gregory said the decision to withdraw strike action was "a very positive development".  

"Fire and Emergency remains committed to exploring all the options available to reach settlement and I am confident this latest development represents considerable progress to reach a resolution after a lengthy process."

This morning’s decision follows a three-day national conference held by the union in Whangarei, which finished yesterday.

Mr Gregory and National Commander Russell Wood attended the conference for wide-ranging, and at times heated, question and answer session with union delegates yesterday.

NZPFU Dunedin local secretary Mark Leonard said Dunedin firefighters were pleased the strike had been called off, with an expectation of fruitful negotiations with Fenz going forward.

Further strikes scheduled for Monday and next Friday are still scheduled to go ahead.