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FIRE DISPUTE: UNION CALLS FOR INVESTMENT TO END FIRE-FIGHTERS DISPUTE

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The National Executive Council (NEC) of Unison has expressed its solidarity with the Fire Brigades Union and called...
The National Executive Council (NEC) of Unison has expressed its solidarity with the Fire Brigades Union and called on the government to make real investment available to end the dispute. The NEC criticised government interference in the negotiations when a settlement appeared close on 22 November. It also reiterated its support for improvements in public services, but not at the expense of fewer jobs and poorer terms and conditions for the workforce.

A statement from Unison's NEC said:

'Throughout the public sector we condemn policies that lead to poorer services, fewer jobs, and poorer terms and conditions for the workforce. We support the Fire Brigades Union in its view that modernisation of the fire service should not be at the expense of public safety, nor if it means fewer fire fighters, fewer fire stations and fewer fire engines.

'We call on the government to resolve the current dispute by making real investment available now, and condemn those within the government who see the dispute as a way of taking on public sector trade unions. Confrontation with public sector workers cannot be the way forward for a Labour government. It will not lead to the improvements in our public services which we all seek.

'The NEC welcomes the decision by the FBU executive to take part in exploratory talks with ACAS to look at a mechanism for a positive way forward. We call on the government and the employers' side to use this opportunity to find a settlement agreeable to all parties concerned.'

Meanwhile, Unison's Scottish Council, comprising representatives from all the unions 100 plus Scottish branches will meet tomorrow and will consider a motion pledging support for the firefighters. The motion is supported by the union's Scottish committee and follows a decision by the unions NEC to back the FBU last Wednesday. T

Matt Smith, Unison's Scottish secretary said:

'Unison condemns those in the government who are using this

dispute as a way of taking on public sector unions, and sections of the

press who seek to demonise firefighters and their representatives. We

welcome the FBU's decision to talk to ACAS to try and find a way to resolve

the dispute, and call on the goverrnment to find the extra investment to

end it.'

Unison is also angry that the Bain report has recommended joint control

rooms and training firefighters as paramedics, said Mr Smith.

'Ambulances carry fire extinguishers - that does not make them

fireengines any more than carrying resuscitation equipment makes a fire

engine an ambulance. Ill-informed attempts to blur the roles between

emergency service personnel and suggestions of joint emergency control

rooms, will not help to improve services. Unison wants modern and effective

public services. In particular services that have sufficient, properly

trained staff to provide them. Sir George Bain's report does not deliver

this.'

The Unison motion calls for a substantial donation to the FBU, for Unison

branches to visit FBU picket lines asexpressions of solidarity and for

risk assessments to be carried out in Unison workplaces on strike days.

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