Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

September 28, 2009 07:00 ET

South Yorkshire Firefighter Sacking Threat 'Must Be Lifted' or There Will Be Strike Action Within Weeks, FBU Warns

SOUTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2009) -

Embargoed Release 12.00 (Noon) September 28

South Yorkshire fire authority must lift its threat to sack 744 firefighters or there will be strike action within weeks, the Fire Brigades Union has warned. The union says fire bosses are using the tactics of 1930s pit owners and trampling on basic workers' rights.

The fire authority has threatened to sack 744 firefighters to force through new contracts of employment and shift changes. If they do not or cannot work the shifts in those new contracts - for family, childcare or other reasons - they will be sacked without redundancy payments.

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack: "The fire authority can't run away from their threat to sack 744 firefighters in South Yorkshire to impose new contracts. To threaten to sack 744 firefighters, while claiming no one will lose their job, flies in the face of reality.

"There is nothing modern about using the tactics of 1930s pit owners and trampling on the basic rights of workers. The offer of a one-off payment does not address the threat of mass sackings.

"Firefighters want a negotiated agreement and that is still possible. Unless the threat to sack 744firefighters is lifted there will be strike action within weeks."

Michael Clapham MP (Barnsley West & Penistone) and Vice Chair of the FBU Parliamentary Group has sent the following message of support to the rally:

"Firefighters in South Yorkshire do a tremendous job of work in our area, for which all people in South Yorkshire are incredibly grateful. Their response to the floods of 2007 was nothing short of heroic, and they continue to serve the area with dedication and loyalty.

"Threatening every one of these firefighters with the sack on pain of imposing a new shift system is no way to treat this group of loyal public servants. I send a message of solidarity to firefighters here today and call on the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority to withdraw these proposals and negotiate with the union."

Please see note at end of press release explaining the notification of redundancies.

Ian Murray, FBU regional secretary said: "Moving from a 9-hour day to a 12-hour day shift has a major impact as every parent knows. It's a 12-hour shift for firefighters, but also a 12-hour shift for children and families.

"No one wants their kids to spend 13 hours in childcare or be unable to see them off to school in the morning or back from school at the end of the day. There is no consideration of what firefighters will do with children during school holidays or weekends.

"We've put forward proposals for 10 hour day shifts which will save more money, is more practical, makes communities safer, and be less disruptive on firefighters and their families. Our proposals save Pounds Sterling 4.48 million, more than the fire authority's own plans, and allow more time for training and community safety work.

"There has been a five to one vote in favour of strike action because firefighters are outraged at the way they are being treated. We want a negotiated agreement and we still hope that can be achieved."

FORMAL NOTIFICATION OF REDUNDANCIES

The contents of the HR1 form - a formal legal notification of redundancy sent by the fire authority states the following:

Under "method for selection of redundancy" the answer, filled in by the fire authority, is "All staff currently conditioned to the wholetime shift duty system (other than within fire control)"

Under "reasons for redundancies" the answer, filled in by the fire authority, is "Changes to shifts (please see attached letter)"

Under "number of possible redundancies" the answer, filled in by the fire authority, is "approx 744".

Under "date of proposed redundancy" the answer, filled in by the fire authority, is "1st January 2010".

Under "I certify that the information given in this form is, so far as I know, correct and complete" it is signed: "Steve Swarbrick, Deputy Chief Fire Officer" and dated 29 June 2009.

Contact Information

  • Regional/local media contacts:
    Ian Murray
    07967 103345
    or
    Jeremy Pagan
    07977 931086
    or
    National Media contacts:
    0208 541 1765
    or
    Out of hours
    07736 818100