Border Ops Association on Detector Dogs
A statement in response to recent media releases surrounding issues around the Auckland Detector Dog Program at Auckland Airport
The Border Ops Association is a Union formed, solely to represent Border Clearance Officers, working for the Ministry for Primary Industries. We have been incorporated for only a small length of time (since early April 2017) but have worked hard within that time for our members, including those within the MPI Detector Dog Program.
I am troubled by the recent media coverage on the health and welfare of the Detector Dog Team within Auckland Airport, but am also concerned about the misinformation being released by our ‘sister’ Union, the Public Service Association or PSA.
In a recent article in SCOOP, the PSA has stated that the current state of affairs within this highly valued team is the reduction in days off from 4 days off to 2 days off being implemented by MPI. The problem with this statement is that it is only half true. The previous roster that they spoke of is a 4 x 4 roster that has staff on shift for 4 days and then off for 4 days. MPI looked at reducing the number of staff on this roster as a Health and Safety concern as this pattern means that you are working longer days on your 4 days on. The choice of this to a 4 x 2, or 4 days on and 2 days off was actually, to our understanding, initiated by the PSA, so it is with great concern that we see them publicly denounce their own roster and blame the employer for this. We feel that this is bad faith and we, as the other union within MPI Border Clearance, wish to distance ourselves from this behaviour.
Most of the PSA members are on the 4 x 2 roster pattern, while BOA members and many of the non-unionised members (as well as a small amount of PSA members) are on an interim 5 x 3 roster that we have recently negotiated with MPI. It is also closely related to the 5 x 3 roster that the Christchurch Detector Dog Members are currently on (not the 4 x 4 roster pattern as the PSA alludes to). It allows for a stronger work life balance, and has been successful within the Christchurch Team. This was offered to the PSA as well, however, they did not want to entertain it.
MPI and The Border Ops Association do not necessarily consider this a final solution, and are currently working together to find the best solution for the future. We don’t believe that falling back on old ways is the best way to do this. The PSA is invited to engage with both other parties to resolve this, but we feel the place to do this is in the boardroom and NOT within the media. To that end, this is not meant as an attack on our ‘sister’ union, however we feel it disingenuous to put our members at risk with the misinformation currently within the public forum.
Current contracts are coming up for negotiations and there are ongoing work groups looking at solutions to rectify concerns on both sides of the table. This is made more difficult with outside sources clouding the issues. If there is factual, helpful information, then I encourage the media to share this, however part stories and misrepresentation do nothing to assist those affected by these allegations.
Co-President – Border Ops Association