Fire service HR teams attack stubborn FBU

Fire service HR professionals have criticised the Fire Brigades Union for
demanding an inflation-busting pay rise without committing to modernisation
during the ongoing strike.

The FBU has abandoned its original 40 per cent pay claim and is ready to
settle for a 16 per cent increase over 12 months. But so far the union has not
been prepared to link any pay deal to proposals to reform the service put
forward by Sir George Bain.

HR managers in the service told Personnel Today they believed the Government
was right to block a 16 per cent deal because the FBU, which was due to start
its next strike tomorrow, would not consider modernisation.

Peter Brook, HR manager at Greater Manchester County Fire Service, said any
pay rise of more than 4 per cent should be directly linked to Bain’s
modernisation recommendations.

Bain proposes a greater emphasis on HR and people management in the service
and that the ‘four-days-on four-days-off’ shift system should be overhauled to
improve diversity.

Bain also calls for retained firefighters to work alongside full-time staff,
the introduction of paramedic training and the end of the overtime ban.

Anne Smith, HR manager at Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service, said the
service must become more efficient.

"It you want pay to move on then conditions and shift patterns must
move on as well. It is just bringing the service into the 21st century,"
she said.

"HR absolutely needs to be mainstreamed, especially people management
skills for station commanders."

The HR manager at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, Mike French, said
retained firefighters in Lincolnshire already work alongside full-time
personnel and paramedic equipment is stowed aboard all its engines.

By Paul Nelson

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