Blair says overhaul needed to achieve firefighters pay rise

Prime
Minister Tony Blair has told firefighters that working practices would have to
be reformed to get a pay rise of more than 4 per cent.

Blair
said that the deal agreed between the employers and the unions last Friday
morning, which included four pay rises in a year, would add £500m to the cost
of reforming the fire service. He also claimed that the FBU made no commitment
to the modernisation of the service.

Blair
said that working practices must be radically overhauled if a new pay formula
was to be introduced.

"At
present, full-time fire-fighters working in the same crew as part-time
fire-fighters is banned. It means management being able to change, where
necessary, a shift system of two days on, two nights on, four days off, if that
produces a better service. It means for example allowing overtime where it is needed.
It means agreeing to basic training in paramedical work. It means sharing
control rooms with other emergency services so that the service to the public
is improved and money is saved."

"All
these changes are pretty basic changes to working practices, all of those would
of course save money and produce efficiency gains. And frankly I defy anyone to
say that they are unreasonable, but at present the Union has not agreed to any
of them at all."

By Paul Nelson

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