Hereford and Worcester firefighters are taking on their employers, after repeated attempts by the Chief Fire Officer to undercut the union. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has lodged a trade dispute, criticising “confrontational” management for imposing new duty systems and contracts without meaningful consultation. The FBU will consider industrial action if the dispute is not resolved by 9th August.
The management of Hereford and Worcester fire and rescue service (HWFRS) have forced firefighters to perform managerial and supervisory duties outside of their contract, while new recruits have been placed on new contracts without discussion with the union.
Sides have clashed a number of times over the imposition of a 10-hour day shift system. After ignoring recommendations from a Technical Advisory Panel, the service gave the FBU a single day’s notice before imposing the controversial shift system.
Andrew Scattergood, FBU West Midlands regional secretary, said:
“From the start, we’ve been reasonable and open to discussion, but we’ve had no reciprocal response from management, despite assurances that discussions would be conducted in good faith.
“We want to find a solution to ensure that firefighters are safe at work and are able to properly protect their community, but the Chief Fire Officer has refused to engage and seems interested only in imposition rather than proper negotiation. We’re disappointed that it’s come to this, but we have no choice but to lodge this dispute.”
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“We won’t stand by and let heavy-handed management trample on the rights of firefighters. Our local reps have worked tirelessly to engage constructively, only to be ignored and undermined by the Chief Fire Officer. The arrogance is appalling. Firefighters in Hereford and Worcester will have the full support of the FBU and of firefighters across the country.”
The FBU is demanding the immediate return to the previous contracts, shift systems, and conditions of employment, and that all new contracts be collectively negotiated and agreed by the FBU. The service has until Friday 9th August to agree unconditionally to the union’s terms, before the FBU considers industrial action.