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FBU conference raises pay concerns

26 May 2017

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) annual conference focused on the latest developments in relation to pay and working conditions associated with the five work streams trials taking place across the UK.

The Union's conference took place in Blackpool on 10-12 May and FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told delegates that discussion are reaching a crucial stage and the next few weeks will be important in assessing whether any progress can be made.

The five work streams set up by the National Joint Council (NJC). were established to examine the areas of activity where the fire and rescue service had already taken on new work and other areas where further expansion might take place. The position of the union throughout these discussions has been that such work must be sustainable (i.e. have adequate funding); that safety and operational standards must be set; and that the issue of pay must be addressed. 

The FBU has warned that, with the background of cuts to fire service funding, these discussions were not at all guaranteed to succeed. Although there are five work-streams, the most challenging areas of discussion have been around MTFA and emergency medical response (EMR).

Wrack explained that the issue of pay and conditions remains unresolved. He explained to conference that the Executive Council is not optimistic that the fire service employers will seriously attempt to address the concerns of its members. 

Instead, they appear likely to maintain adherence to the government policy restricting pay to a maximum of 1% increases. Wrack said: “If they adopt this approach, they will completely ignore the issue of new work, new skills and new responsibilities – evidence clearly identified during the trials.

“We are aware that there are various employers’ meetings taking place at this time which will be considering these matters, and we hope a constructive approach emerges, but this is not guaranteed. The National Joint Council will meet in York on 1 June. Our pay settlement is due on 1 July. Members should follow closely the developments around these issues during these few weeks.”

“In relation to the various trials of EMR work, the last meeting of the NJC agreed an extension beyond February. During this phase, we have been clear with the employers that no new trials should be established, nor should existing trials be expanded (i.e. more stations added). 

“These are trials and are not permanent arrangements. We have made clear to the employers that if they seek any further extension of trials beyond the June NJC, they would need to make such a request and explain the grounds for their request, including how they intend to address our concerns about pay. 

“Our conference was clear that if the employers do not address both aspects of our concerns (on operational matters and on pay) then the agreed NJC trials would come to an end.”