[A-List] UK labour militancy & public order
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Dec 16 06:41:25 MST 2002
Bain review recommends 11 per cent pay rise for firefighters
By Alan Jones, Industrial Correspondent, PA News
The Independent, 16 December 2002
The Bain review of the fire service published its report this morning,
confirming its earlier recommendation that firefighters should be given an
11 per cent pay rise over two years, tied to changes in working practices.
The eagerly awaited Bain review into the fire service said there were
several areas in which brigades could levy charges in a bid to generate
income, including charging firms for false fire alarm calls and insurance
companies when fire crews attend road accidents.
Extra medical training, voluntary overtime and additional pay costs would
add £177million over three years.
But the report said substantial savings could be made from modernising the
service and not replacing every firemen and women who retired.
Natural wastage runs at 4 per cent - 5 per cent each year and the report
said savings could be made if half the posts which become vacant every year
were not filled.
No specific figures were given, but it is estimated that this could involve
around 3,500 job losses over three years, well short of the 10,000 raised by
deputy Prime Minister John Prescott last month.
The fire brigade's union boycotted the Bain review and described its
findings as "irrelevant".
Many of the recommendations will be firmly resisted by the union, including
calls for overtime to be worked and changes to shift patterns which would
see fewer staff working at night.
The Bain report suggested novel ways of raising money for fire brigades
including charging for attending false alarms.
Around 41 per cent of all calls are false while in some parts of the country
98 per cent of calls to automatic fire alarms turn out to be false.
"Just reducing attendance to these types of incident or making a simple
phone call to confirm the need for attendance would save resources," said
It was also suggested that insurance companies could be charged for the
costs of fire crews attending road accidents.
Charges could also be made for giving fire safety advice.
More than £100 million could be raised by charging for services and false
alarms over the next three years, although some of the changes would require
The review recommended a 4 per cent pay rise back dated to November followed
by a 7 per cent increase next November provided a "total reform programme"
Measures to improve fire prevention coupled with better management of the
service, improved co-operation between brigades and other economies should
allow the pay award to be self-financing, according to the report.
The review team made it clear that the union would have to agree to accept
all the proposed reforms before the pay rise was given.
Sir George Bain, who chaired the review, said: "We are convinced that
everyone stands to gain from reform - the public, the service and the
individuals who work in it.
"We have formed the view that the threat of fire and other emergencies can
only be reduced through a sensible combination of precaution and response."
Sir George said there was too much emphasis on reacting to fires and
emergencies rather than on preventing them.
Bain report on pay may drive firefighters to strike again
By Barrie Clement, Labour Editor
The Independent, 16 December 2002
The threat of further strikes by Britain's firefighters will increase today
with the publication of the Bain report, according to senior management
They believe the document on pay and modernisation in the fire service drawn
up by Sir George Bain will place local authority negotiators in a
"straitjacket". A senior figure on the employers' negotiating team predicts
that the full report will "close off some areas of negotiation".
Despite speculation that the Fire Brigades Union is unlikely to resurrect
its campaign of industrial action, the present industrial peace was nothing
more than a "Christmas truce", the source believed. The 48-hour stoppages,
planned to begin at 9am on 28 January and 9am on 1 February, were still a
serious option for the union, he argued.
The Bain report will propose an 11 per cent increase over two years in
return for improvements to productivity. It is expected to stick with the
offer of 4 per cent from November this year and propose another 7 per cent
from next November provided the union accepts change to working practices.
However, it will suggest that the introduction of a pay formula to "inform"
firefighters' wages should not be introduced until November 2004. The next
face-to-face talks to discuss the union's call for a 40 per cent pay
increase, putting firefighters on £30,0000 a year, are expected in the
second week of January.
Apart from the apparent lateness of its introduction of the pay formula, the
union is keen to reintroduce a more formal wage mechanism which dictates
rather than informs the level of pay. As part of the settlement of the first
national firefighters' strike in 1978 a formula was established which
determined pay and obviated the need for annual negotiations.
Among his recommendations, Sir George is expected to call for the merger of
some fire brigades, new shift patterns and more working flexibility.
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