FIREFIGHTERS across Worcester have called on their bosses to ditch controversial changes to how they work by August 9 or face the prospect of strike action.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has lodged a trade dispute, criticising ‘confrontational’ management for imposing new duty systems and contracts without meaningful consultation, and will consider industrial action if the dispute is not resolved by next month.
FBU chiefs claim Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) management 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 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,” he added.
A HWFRS spokesman said: “We have been trying to change systems for the last three years to allow more firefighters to be available to crew fire engines but this has been consistently rejected by the FBU.
“It is a complete surprise and is really disappointing to receive this ultimatum now, as in the last month we have asked the FBU to join us in referring this issue to ACAS.
“Unfortunately, that was rejected and so we have also offered to make a joint referral to ACAS.
“Industrial action will benefit no-one, so we urge the FBU to join us in referring the issue to ACAS.”