Fire authorities in Scotland joined the National Joint Council (NJC) to negotiate on conditions of service including wages and pensions for firefighters north of the border.
Before this, only England and Wales were represented on the NJC, and the important addition of Scotland removed the danger of two separate joint councils being formed. The union’s executive council agreed that three seats should be allocated for their Scottish representatives.
One of the first fights by Scottish employers was on 18 April 18, when they agreed to recommend proposals from the FBU that their discipline regulations be amended to allow appeals against the firemaster to be heard by the fire service committee. The Firefighter reported:
“It has always been one of the serious weaknesses of the Scottish discipline code that in contrast to the English and Welsh regulations the firemaster’s word was always final. This has naturally worked to the disadvantage of members except in cases of dismissal or reduction of rank of more than one rank where an appeal has been possible to the Secretary of State for Scotland.”
The union argued that this situation meant that fire authorities were, to all intents and purposes, outside the disciplinary procedure. It said:
“The firemaster thus has vested in him quite extraordinary powers, absolutely contradicting the undertaking given by local authority representatives on the change-over from the National Fire Service.”
Thanks to Scotland’s new presence on the NJC, the union’s battle for change was successful. New regulations, which came into force from 1 September 1953, gave the accused the right of appeal against punishments other than a caution. The Scottish district committee also took centre stage in the fight over sick pay policy the following year.
The Scottish district committee, The Firefighter states, “are of the opinion that the employer’s side of the joint council should be urged to recommend to all local authorities that they put the new scales into immediate operation, as in fact, they are permitted under the regulations as they now stand.”