INDEPENDENT NEWS

Fire Service Commission wastes money in court

Published: Tue 12 Oct 1999 12:52 AM
Fire Service Commission wastes money in court
Tue Oct 12 1999
The Fire Service Commission has scandalously wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on court action which has proved to be pointless, Alliance MP Grant Gillon said today. The Commission has today lost its appeal against an Employment Court ruling that it acted illegally when it sacked all fire-fighters and made them re-apply for their jobs. Grant Gillon says the huge sums of money spent on legal action have been wasted. He wants someone to be held accountable for the sums spent. 'Fire Commission chairperson Dame Margaret Bazley has some explaining to do about why the Commission continued to waste public money on doomed legal action that clearly had no chance of success,' Grant Gillon said. 'The whole thinking behind the case was wrong. No good employer takes their own staff to court in an effort to sack them all. If the Commission was worthy of their job, they would be working with professional fire-fighters, not squandering time and money in legal battles. 'Hundreds of thousdands of dollars have been flushed away. In addition to its lawyers' fees, the Commission faces costs of at least $200,000 for the Appeal Court hearing and it owes $180,000 in costs to the Firefighters' union from the earlier hearing. 'The money spent on the appeal could have been better spent on buying the urgently-needed new aerial appliance for Auckland, upgrading the communications centre which has been beset by problems, or even giving fire-fighters a pay rise. 'The Fire Service Commission should accept the ruling that it acted unreasonably and now start working with fire-fighters instead of against them. 'Grant Gillon called on the Fire Service Commission to end its campaigns to undermine public support for professional firefighters. 'Every time the court hearings have come up the Fire Service has been involved in a media campaign to undermine public support for fire-fighters, for example by making totally unsubstantiated claims that fire-fighters have threatened volunteers or vandalised equipment. Despite making claims, the Commission has never backed them up. That is not the attitude of a responsible employer. 'The Fire Service Commission needs to stop fighting professional fire-fighters and begin working towards uniting the Fire Service and rebuilding morale. '
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