National Joint Council (NJC) and Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council (CFBAC) founded with FBU representation
In preparation for the return of the fire service to local control after the war, the government established a National Joint Council made up of local authority and trade union representatives.
This restored to the FBU the right to arbitration, which had been lost during the nationalisation of the service during wartime. Any disagreements could be referred to the Ministry of Labour’s Industrial Court, which would act as arbiter in any dispute.
The FBU was quick to take advantage and at the council’s first meeting made demands to reduce hours and increase pay, which resulted in a significant victory for the union. Firefighters won the right to a reduced 60-hour week and, following a historic appearance at the industrial court, from 1 January 1947 the union brought the rent allowance for married firefighters in line with that received by married police constables.
The Fire Services Bill, which broke up the National Fire Service into 146 regional councils in England and Wales and 11 fire brigade authorities in Scotland, was presented before the Commons in February that year by home secretary Chuter Ede. It was soon to become the 1947 Fire Services Act, establishing the structure for the post-war service.
A Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council (CFBAC) was founded, also with FBU representation, to assist the home secretary on the transfer of firefighters from the national wartime setup to the new regionalised fire brigades.
The council was empowered to advise Ede on all matters relating to the new fire service, with the exception of conditions of service. A separate council for Scotland, with FBU representatives, was also set up, although the councils liaised with each other.
The CFBAC was described by home secretary James Callaghan in 1968 as a body that “provided the ground on which all interests, the unions, the local authority associations and the Home Office, could get together to discuss the efficiency and welfare of the service.”