Fire Service undermining prior learning of firefighters

Posted: March 11, 2016 by Admin in At the coalface, Class Matters, Economics, New Zealand economy, New Zealand history, New Zealand politics, Political & economic power, Unions - NZ, Workers history, Workers' rights

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by Susanne Kemp

While firefighters recently won a little battle over one type of arbitrary action by the Fire Service – messing with holiday remuneration – they still face another piece of arbitrary behaviour from the employer.

This is that the Fire Service is refusing to make the proper payments to firefighters who have been awarded the IFE qualification.  In fact, back in November the Fire Service stopped processing applications by firefighters for the qualification bonus associated with the IFE where the qualification was awarded on the basis of Recognised Prior Learning.

The IFE is the Institution of Fire Engineers, a body founded here in 1918 and which is dedicated to the science of fire prevention, extinction and engineering.  It promotes ideas that are useful to furthering such science and also best practice in the industry.

The IFE runs courses and has a formal exam but, in a field like firefighting, it seems perverse to downplay the importance of prior learning.  People can pass exams without necessarily being able to cope with real-life situations.

Moreover, the action of the Fire Service is, once again, arbitrary.  It’s like they have power, so they will exercise it, no matter how little what they do in any case makes sense.

Indeed, this seems like another miserable little attempt by the Fire Service to save a few bucks at the expense of firefighters.

Given that prior learning is codified in the CEA (section 2.6.17), the union is pointing out that the Fire Service is in breach of agreement.  The dispute continues and we’ll keep readers up to date with developments.

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