Duty systems: condemnation of excessive hours of work and other terms and conditions which are inferior to those contained within the Grey book

Year: 2016  (Resolution no: Emergency resolution 3)

Nominating section: South Yorkshire

Policy text:

Current FBU Policy relating to Day Crewing Plus and Close Proximity Crewing duty systems was agreed at the FBU’s 2011 Conference. The Grey Book and the Working Time Regulations are clear that specific and identified features of contractual working hours can only be varied by a collective agreement. Conference recognises that the Health and Safety Executive has deemed that Close Proximity Crewing is not compliant with the Working Time Regulations due to the absence of a collective agreement.

Conference notes the outcome of the National Joint Council’s Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) that convened on 16 January 2016 to consider Cleveland Fire Brigade’s proposed new duty system. Conference further notes the outcome of the employment tribunal which heard the case Mansell & others v South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, which became reportable on 27 January 2016. The tribunal determined that the Close Proximity Crewing duty system introduced by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service is not compliant with the Working Time Regulations and found that firefighters had suffered a detriment as a result of its introduction. A settlement on the compensation to be awarded is now being discussed between the respective parties’ lawyers.

Conference applauds the officials and members in Cleveland and all other brigades who have fought, and continue to fight, the implementation of duty systems and working practices which are more akin to the working hours’ commonplace in the 19th century as opposed to the 21st century.

Conference is angered that Fire and Rescue Services continue to try to implement duty systems that patently are not in accordance with the four principles contained within Section 4, Paragraph 3 of the Grey Book which includes a working week of not more than 42 hours. In addition Conference is opposed to any duty system which introduces, requires or allows for terms and conditions which are inferior to those in the Grey Book. Examples of these which we have witnessed are:

• Pre-arranged overtime, whether voluntary or mandatory, which is required on a regular and programmed basis because establishment levels are insufficient to ensure that all appliances can be kept on the run.

• Overtime rates which are at less than time and a half (or double time on public holidays).

Conference therefore:

• Reaffirms that all Brigade Committees must resist and not agree to terms and conditions which are inferior to those contained within the Grey Book.

• Reaffirms that all Brigade Committees will resist and not agree to the introduction of any duty system which commits members to work more than 42 hours per week.

• Reaffirms that all Brigades Committees will resist and not agree to a variation to the default norms within the Working Time Regulations by way of a collective agreement.

• Requires all Brigade Committees to challenge the introduction of any duty system which does not conform to FBU policy. Where a Fire and Rescue Service cannot be persuaded to withdraw its proposals to introduce a duty system which does not conform, the Brigade Committee shall refer the matter to the TAP. Preferably, this referral will be undertaken jointly with the employer or unilaterally by the Brigade Committee where the employer refuses or prevaricates.

• Requires all Brigade Committees to take all steps to bring an end to the continued use of such duty systems where they have already been introduced.

• Requires that the Executive Council and Head Office Officials continue to campaign nationally against such duty systems, by continuing to raise the FBU’s concerns and opposition with the appropriate bodies and forums such as the National Joint Council and the Health & Safety Executive in order to stop (a) the introduction of such duty systems and (b) an end to the operation of the duty systems where they have been introduced.

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