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Agreement in Fire Service New Recruits Dispute

PRESS RELEASE - 4 August 1999

Agreement Reached in Fire Service New Recruits Dispute

"An undertaking given by the Fire Service Commission in the Employment Court today has allowed the Firefighters Union to adjourn its application for an interim injunction to stop the Fire Service Commission recruiting new operational firefighters at a time when the Commission still intends to make 400 existing firefighters redundant", said Derek Best Secretary of the Firefighters Union.

"However, it is disappointing but not surprising that it was only hours before the Court case commenced that the Commission was prepared to act to protect the employment rights of existing firefighters. Obviously only the threat of legal action, where the Union was confident of success, forced the Commission to act fairly and decently", Derek Best said.

"The undertaking given by the Commission provides that if redundancies do occur in the Fire Service, opportunities for existing firefighters to redeploy into Auckland and Gisborne (where the new recruits will be sent) will not be decreased. The Commission has agreed to operate Auckland and Gisborne over establishment by the equivalent number of new recruits and existing firefighters will have the right to be redeployed to those localities."

"As well, the Union will be given at least 7 days notice before any decision to undertake a new recruitment course is progressed. This will allow the Union to seek a further undertaking as far as any new recruitment is concerned or commence further legal action."

"It should not be necessary for firefighters to have to commence legal action simply to get their employer to act fairly and decently. Common sense alone says it is a ridiculous proposal to recruit new firefighters when the Commission still intends to make hundreds of existing firefighters redundant. However, the undertaking forced out of the Commission protects absolutely the redeployment rights of existing firefighters. It would have made so much more sense for the Fire Service Commission to accept it is required to act as a good employer without the need for the Union to take legal action", said Derek Best.

"Unfortunately we have just another example of a lack of accountability, wastage of public money, and an attitude of couldn't care less for the rights of firefighters by this Commission", Derek Best concluded.

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