Commons votes to impose pay settlement on firefighters

A
Bill that allows the Government to impose a pay settlement to end the
firefighters’ dispute has passed through the House of Commons despite a Labour
backbench rebellion.

Twenty-seven
Labour ministers opposed the Fire Services Bill, which cleared the Commons by
263 votes to 198. It included a ‘sunset clause’ – a last minute concession to
rebels which will require the emergency measure to be reconfirmed by Parliament
every two years, or collapse.

The
Bill will revive arbitration powers repealed in 1959 and also gives deputy
prime minister John Prescott control over fire stations and equipment.

Fire
Brigade Union general secretary Andy Gilchrist has urged members to accept a 16
per cent pay rise offered by the Government, at the FBU conference on June
12. 

Local
Government Minister Nick Raynsford said he expected to have introduced
legislation contained in the White Paper on the Fire Services by that time.

He
said the White Paper would set out the Government’s “longer-term vision for the
fire service”, but  refused to say when
it is due, reiterating previous statements that it is to be published
“shortly”.

By Michael Millar

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