FENZ and firefighters union reach $145m settlement

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

A settlement has now been reached between Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union. 

According to Stuff, the settlement includes a 24 per cent wage increase, blood screening for early cancer detection and medical response recognition for firefighters and dispatchers, all valued to be $145 million - $100 million higher than what was offered in July.

The wage increase is backdated to 2021, as well as a 22% increase in allowances, also backdated to 2021.

New psychological support and supervision programmes, a $1,500 sign-on bonus to be given out during Christmas, and an acknowledgement of the costs of living in Auckland with a one-time payment to members who work there are also planned.

The NZPFU will now put up a proposed collective bargaining agreement to its members for approval. This is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

According to Fire and Emergency NZ chief executive Kerry Gregory, it's an important milestone that honours both parties' continuous efforts throughout the difficult and prolonged negotiation.

"We are pleased that, with government support, we have been able to present a revised offer that recognises the critical role firefighters play while being sustainable for Fire and Emergency," he says.

It comes after many months of protests and strikes from firefighters describing a lack of support from FENZ, poor working environments, overworked staff, understaffed workplaces and more. The latest set of strikes in November were called off after the government stepped in, offering financial support.