Minister urges firefighters not to strike

Fire
Service Minister Nick Raynsford is urging firefighters not to strike over pay.

Raynsford
said he is disappointed that the Fire Brigade Union plans to ballot members on
strike action over their 40 per cent pay claim – increasing pay by £9,000 a
year to £30,000.

The
minister is urging the union to back the Government’s independent review on the
Fire Service, including pay.

Raynsford
said: "The independent review provides a timely opportunity to consider
the issues facing the Fire Service, including pay.

"It
is an alternative to what would be an unnecessary and deeply damaging dispute
that could put people’s lives at risk.

"The
Fire Brigade Union says it is reluctant to take industrial action and that this
would only be used as a last resort. We believe they should honour this
commitment. Industrial action, when a clear alternative is available, is
unjustifiable.

"The
FBU say they want a new pay formula – they are being offered a new pay formula.
They want higher pay – we’ve set up an independent review which will examine
their pay. But the FBU are refusing to co-operate with it. They should submit
their case to the review and avoid a damaging and dangerous strike.

"There
is a long history of using independent reviews to resolve industrial relations
dispute issues after bitter and damaging strikes. Why wait to let that damage
and bitterness take place and put people’s lives at risk?

"I
urge firefighters and their leaders to seize the opportunity of Professor Sir
George Bain’s independent review. He commands respect on all sides because of
his expertise and integrity – highlighted most recently in his outstanding work
leading the Low Pay Commission."

By Paul Nelson

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