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FIRE DISPUTE: 'BURCHILL PROPOSAL INCOMPATIBLE TO DELIVERY OF 16% PAY PACKAGE'

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Proposed amendments to the latest offer made to firefighters by the UK fire ...
Proposed amendments to the latest offer made to firefighters by the UK fire

employers would fail to deliver the savings necessary to meet the 16% pay

deal. Frank Burchill - the current independent chair of the

National Joint Council, which incorporates both the fire service employers,

and the FBU, suggested the changes.

The employers reached the conclusion that the alterations would both prevent

the development of a modern fire service and the generation of sufficient

change to fund the proposed pay increases of 7% in November 2003 and 4.2% in

July 2004. If these changes are not achieved then pay increases cannot

follow.

The employers remain committed to seeking a negotiated settlement and

welcomed the FBU executive's decision to recommend the offer set out in the

proposed 'Heads of Agreement' document of the 18 March. Although the FBU

re-call conference overturned the executive council's recommendation and

rejected the offer, the offer remains on the table. It is this offer that

provides the only realistic basis for a negotiated settlement.

If incorporated, the Burchill suggestions would:

- Retain constant crewing around the clock. Constant crewing is one of the

current barriers to providing fire and rescue cover that meets local risk

assessment plans - it would effectively prevent managers providing more

resources where necessary at specific times of the day when fire risk is

deemed greatest.

- Retain the union's right to unilateral disputes procedure. Change in the

fire service has been prevented for many years by the union's automatic

right to refer any issue unilaterally to a disputes procedure. Minor issues

of change can spend literally years tied up in lengthy procedures. While

this suits the union, which will be opposing the change, it has simply led

to the 'fossilisation' of much of the service. Significant changes required

to improve service delivery simply cannot be put in plac e. If a unilateral

right to dispute procedures were to be retained, implementation of local

risk management plans will be frustrated and consequently savings to fund

the pay package, hampered.

- Retain the FBU's right to veto any decision at a local level. While the

employers have agreed to consult staff with the aim of reaching consensus on

change, they will not allow the union a veto on decisions taken by

management working to implement their risk assessment plans. Retention of a

veto would undoubtedly impact on the implementation of the risk assessment

plans and consequently, the pay package increases.

- Give the FBU power to veto the recognition of any other trade union

representing fire service personnel. The employers believe it is

unacceptable to only recognise one union when a number of other

representative bodies are involved in the fire service.

Consequently, the employers have rejected these additional suggested changes

to their last and final offer made on the 18 March. The FBU executive should

be in no doubt that the Burchill suggestions are a 'non runner' in

negotiations and should press ahead with its recall conference on the 15

April, as planned. We hope the FBU will remain focussed on convincing its

membership to re-think its rejection of the final offer made by the

employers.

If agreement is not reached soon, it should also be highlighted that the

original timetables attached to pay increases will likely be affected, as

the increases are reliant on delivery of change within the service.

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities president Pat Watters said:

'If agreement is not reached soon, it should also be highlighted that the original timetables attached to pay increases will likely be affected, as the increases are reliant on delivery of change within the service.'

Notes

FIRE SERVICE PAY AND CONDITIONS

A FACT SHEET FOR EMPLOYEES FROM THE EMPLOYERS' SIDE OF THE NJC< p/="">

No doubt you will have heard that Professor Frank Burchill, the Independent

Chair of the NJC, has suggested some amendments to the Employers' offer on

pay and conditions of service.

The Employers considered these suggested amendments on 7th April. Our main

aim now is to ensure that the modernisation process can start and service

changes be implemented in order to create the flexibility and generate the

resources for pay rises in November 2003 and July 2004.

The suggested amendments would make these changes much more difficult to

achieve and would not generate sufficient funds for these pay increases.

This would not be in the interests of the workforce or fire authorities.

Professor Burchill's suggested amendments cannot therefore provide the basis

for any new offer from the Employers.

The Employers nevertheless remain committed to seeking a negotiated

settlement. That is why, after months of negotiations at ACAS, we were

pleased that the offer set out in our proposed 'Heads of Agreement' document

of 18th March was originally accepted by the FBU's Executive Council.

The FBU Conference on 19th March overturned the Executive Council and

rejected the offer but it remains on the table. If it is accepted then

detailed negotiations over its implementation will take place in the coming

months between the two sides of the NJC.

If the offer is not accepted then the Government may impose a settlement

over the heads of fire authorities and their employees. We do not know what

this settlement would be but it is clear from the Deputy Prime Minister's

statement to the House of Commons on 20th March that it could well be lower

than the Employers' current pay offer.

The Employers' offer of 18th March provides the only realistic basis for a

negotiated settlement. We know that many of you want to assess what the

offer means for you personally. This fact sheet is designed to help you make

that assessment.

More in formation can be found on the Employers' website:

http://www.lg-employers.gov.uk/conditions/dispute/index.html

What exactly is the Employers' pay offer?

There are five stages, which produce an average increase of 16% by July next

year:

STAGE 1

An increase of 4% from 7th November 2002

- this 4% increase would apply across the board to all pay points for all

employees covered by the Grey Book (including emergency fire control

personnel and retained firefighters) so everybody is guaranteed 4% backdated

to 7th November 2002

- if the offer is accepted then it should be possible for the new rates to

be included in your June pay packet together with seven months' back pay

STAGE 2

An average increase of 7% from 7th November 2003

STAGE 3

An average increase of 4.2% from 1st July 2004

- the way in which the average increase at stages 2 and 3 would apply is

explained below

- the increase at stage 3 would be four months earlier than the normal

November settlement date and - because all future annual increases would be

on 1st July - this would be a significant benefit

STAGE 4

An increase from 1st July 2005 in line with a new pay formula

STAGE 5

An increase from 1st July 2006 in line with a new pay formula

- the details of the new pay formula would be negotiated between the two

sides of the NJC

- the figure produced by the pay formula would apply across the board to all

employees

How will the average increases of 7% and 4.2% apply?

The Employers have already guaranteed that all competent firefighters (in

other words, those on the fifth year qualified rate) will receive a basic

annual salary of £25,000 by July next year, as long as sufficient resources

are generated to cover the cost. This will provide an increase of slightly

more than 16% in just over a year from now.

The averaging of the 7% and 4.2% increases means that employees in ranks

above firefighter may receive overall increases higher or lower than 16% by

that date. This is because the introduction of a new pay structure based on

the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) will mean moving across to

different pay scales, which have yet to be agreed in the NJC. However, the

Employers would be prepared to guarantee that all employees in ranks above

firefighter receive at least the same cash increase as a qualified

firefighter (£3,469 a year). Many would have the opportunity to earn more.

Officers on the flexible duty system would be guaranteed an increase of

£4,163.

The new IPDS structure will provide a wider range of career paths. This

could include additional pay for taking on special responsibilities and

allow people to develop their earnings potential by acquiring new skills and

competencies.

We are also prepared to discuss in the NJC guaranteed minimum increases for

firefighters who have not yet reached qualified or competent status.

What about the 15 year long service increment?

The new pay structure linked to IPDS will be introduced from 7th November

2003 and will base rewards on competency and responsibility rather than

length of service. We are therefore proposing that the long service

increment (which will be about £1,000 a year following the 4% increase in

November2002) should not feature in the new structure. Recent case law has

in any event established that long service increments can be discriminatory

under equal pay legislation and therefore unlawful.

However, the Employers recognise that many experienced personnel are

concerned about this and are therefore prepared to negotiate some protection

arrangements in the NJC.

What does the offer mean for emergency fire control operators?

As for firefighters, the Employers' offer would give competent emergency

fire control operators (in other words, those on the fifth year rate) an

increase of 16% by July next year. Any increase arising from the proposed

independent job evaluation exercise would be in addition to this.

What does the offer mean for retained firefighters?

Similarly, the Employers' offer would give competent retained firefighters

an increase of 16% by July next year. The Employers have also offered a new

pay structure that would include the equalisation of retained and whole-time

hourly rates from 7th November 2003. This new structure would add a further

6.4% to the pay of a typical retained firefighter and be in addition to the

general average increase of 16%.

We have prepared a separate fact sheet for retained firefighters explaining

how the offer would affect them.

Does the Employers' proposal on working arrangements mean the end of the

2-2-4 shift system?

In the coming months fire authorities will be drawing up risk management

plans that ensure they have the right people in the right place at the right

time. In some cases this will mean resources have to be used in a different

way to now. Consequently different working patterns will be needed in these

cases, though the current shift system can continue to operate where the

fire authority thinks it is appropriate.

It is not anticipated that different working patterns would be introduced

overnight. Where changes are proposed these will be the subject of

discussion and consultation with you and your trade union representatives

with a view to achieving consensus.

Ultimately the responsibility for delivering a risk based service lies with

the fire authority. Changes in working arrangements and shift systems will

not happen purely on the initiative of the chief fire officer.

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