Threat of strikes piles on pressure for under siege Fire Service HR

HR staff will face extreme pressure and months of uncertainty if
firefighters carry out a new threat to strike, according to Fire Service HR

Industrial action could also destroy the fragile truce between the Fire
Brigades Union (FBU) and management and could stall the service’s plans for a
modernisation programme.

The fears were raised after the FBU suspended its conference last week and
warned of strike action if management increases the number of duties night
crews perform. A recalled conference to be held next month will decide whether
to carry out the strike threat.

HR manager at Cleveland Fire Service, Carol McCletchie, said she hoped that
strike action could be avoided.

"HR comes under extreme pressure during industrial action," she
said. "It’s important to be prepared – it is a difficult time."

The implementation of the modernisation programme is already placing heavy
demands on HR, said Peter Brook, head of personnel at Greater Manchester County
Fire Service.

"There is always pressure – pressure and uncertainty. In some ways it
is the uncertainty around this that’s the real concern," he added.

Brook said a union picket could delay the completion of the modernisation
programme by months. "This [issue] is one of the final pieces of the puzzle."

He said that hopefully "both management and the FBU have come too far
to turn back now."

FBU spokesman Duncan Milligan refused to comment on the possibility of
strike action.

He said the union had "a real problem" with Personnel Today
following this magazine’s coverage of last year’s dispute.

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