Fire strike

The chief executive of arbitration body Acas has blamed poor communication
by fire service managers for the ongoing strike action over pay and

John Taylor believes that the lack of effective communication between senior
management and the unions has fuelled the dispute which has led to months of
strikes by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), including two 48-hour strikes last

Speaking at the AnUMan conference in London last week, Taylor said that
improved communication was key to solving the dispute as both parties agree
firefighters deserve more money and that the working practices need

He said: "We should be talking about the development of workforce
strategy and not the annual pay round as a cost.

"Managers [at the Fire Service] must consult and listen, there must be
consultation mechanisms in place."

Taylor said that industrial relations must move away from the
confrontational approaches of the 1970s and 80s.

He warned public sector employers and unions that high public expectation of
their services would demand that they work together in partnership.

The FBU originally demanded a 40 per cent wage increase, taking the basic starter
wage to £30,000 a year. But did agree a 16 per cent deal with employers, which
was then blocked by the Government. The employers – and the Government – claim
an inflation-busting pay rise can only be funded by radically overhauling the
service’s working practices.

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