South Yorkshire fire service dispute referred to Acas

A long-running dispute about changes to firefighters’ shifts will be referred to an advisory panel, it has emerged.

South Yorkshire fire authority and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have agreed to union calls to use in-house mediators after both sides could not reach an agreement on the terms under which they would begin talks with the arbitration service Acas.

An eight-day walkout by firefighters is still planned from Wednesday next week, the FBU told BBC News.

Jim Andrews, chairman of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “The current dispute has lasted well over a year. It is of no benefit to anyone, least of all the public in South Yorkshire. We have today decided to refer the matter to the National Joint Council, hopefully for a speedy resolution.”

Ian Murray, FBU regional secretary, said: “We’re pleased the fire authority accepted our proposals to involve the national employers and union representatives. They have helped resolve numerous disputes in the past few years.”

A separate two-day strike planned to start on 25 January was cancelled on Friday in anticipation of the meeting.

A series of strikes were held last year after 744 firefighters were told they would lose their jobs if they did not accept 12-hour day and night shifts.

Union members were being informed of the latest development at a meeting on Tuesday, an FBU spokesman said.

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