Firefighters could see $20,000 pay rise next year following strike action

9:23 pm on 6 December 2022
A firefighter on scene at an incident. 6 July 2016.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The firefighters union and their employer have come to an agreement after months of strikes over pay and conditions.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) and the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union signed terms for a new collective agreement, subject to a vote by union members, on Tuesday.

Union secretary Wattie Watson said firefighters would receive a pay rise between $10,000 and $20,000 from July next year.

National Secretary of the Professional Fire Fighters' Union, Wattie Watson.

New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union secretary Wattie Watson. Photo: Supplied/ Nudo Group

She was optimistic the union's members would accept it.

"There's a lot in there that I think has come in the nick of time to keep firefighters in their jobs and to start enabling firefighters to spend a little bit more time with their families."

They could not have reached the agreement without government assistance and the advocacy of Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti, Watson said.

The offer before this, put forward by FENZ in July, was costed at $45 million whereas this settlement was costed at $145m, she said.

The settlement included a 22-24 percent pay rise over three years, as well as mental health support and cancer screening for firefighters, and financial assistance for income protection.

FENZ National Commander Kerry Gregory

Fire and Emergency New Zealand chief executive Kerry Gregory. Photo: RNZ

FENZ chief executive Kerry Gregory said it was a significant milestone.

"Our offer in August was at the extent of what we could afford. 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 said.

The agreement was expected to be completed before the end of the year, he said.

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