Firefighters’ pay talks to resume

Talks aimed at settling the firefighters’ pay dispute are expected to
continue at conciliation body Acas this week.

Discussions between Fire Brigades Union officials and representatives from
the Employers Organisation for Local Government have been on hold over the
Christmas period.

The talks follow the publication in December of the independent review of
fire service pay and conditions by Sir George Bain, which calls for HR in the
fire service to be radically overhauled. It claims the fire service only pays
lip service to diversity (over 95 per cent of staff are male), and bullying is
still too widespread.

Bain wants the number of local HR staff increased to help managers alter
shift patterns, the introduction of flexible and part-time working arrangements
and different levels of staff deployed at various times of day.

Val Shawcross, chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority,
said: "The best strategy for providing effective fire cover in a densely
populated area is very different from that of providing best cover for the
business and entertainment capital. We need flexibility to recognise and adapt
to those differences."

However, the FBU has dismissed the report as an irrelevance as it proposes
only a 4 per cent pay increase this year, and a further 7 per cent next year –
well short of the union’s demand for a 40 per cent pay rise.

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