Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

June 27, 2011 09:35 ET

FBU's Response to Essex Chair's Comments on Firefighters' Letters:

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - June 27, 2011) -

National officer Paul Woolstenholmes said:

"The chair of the fire authority says the budget cuts mentioned in the letters are untrue. In fact the chief officer sent out a press release saying the cuts were £7.6 million.

"The severity of cuts has been a constant message sent out by the chief officer for nearly 18 months. It's bizarre for the chair to now say that these are not true, it is a matter of public record.

"Once again we have misleading information about what the chief officer is paid. It is clear from the chair's statement that the chief is paid more money than he is willing to make public.

"Instead he justifies further payments as either locally negotiated or for additional responsibilities. He needs to come clean about what the full pay of the chief officer is, with all and any additional payments included.

"What is also clear is that there is nothing in these letters which constitute defamation or slander. Mr Hedley has now chosen to deal with it in the way he should have from the start, which is trying to set the record straight.

"His problem now is that in saying some of the claims are untrue, he is rewriting the fire authority's own press statements. He needs to come clean about what has gone on, there will be no whitewash in Essex."

The cuts referred to in the letters are a matter of public record and have been continuously referred to by senior managers in communications with staff.

We quote the chief officer's own press release below:

20 10 2010 Essex FRS press release

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson has said the Government's Spending Review announcement is not good news for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

Speaking after the Chancellor George Osborne revealed major public sector reform, the CFO said he was "disappointed" and that today's announcement would mean "significant change" for the County's fire and rescue service.

Over the four year period covered by the Review, the reduction to grant, which makes up around half of the overall spend for fire and rescue authorities, will be 25 per cent.

Reductions for fire and rescue authorities will be weighted to the second half of the spending review period so that organisations have time to prepare.

In real terms for ECFRS, this will mean a 12-13 per cent reduction in budget, amounting to some £7.6m. The exact figure will not be known until the local government settlement figure is announced towards the end of the year, but at the moment this is a best estimate. This doesn't take into account any further restrictions on council tax increases, which have been frozen for 2010/11.

"We are disappointed, this is not good news for Essex. The level of cuts will mean significant change for the Service," said CFO Johnson.

In a previous press release Mr Johnson was also clear about the threat to frontline jobs:

26 8 2010 press release

"This destructive, pre-emptive move to engage ECFRS staff in a ridiculous, intransigent position of no job cuts, no changes to the way we work and no frontline cuts cannot be guaranteed until we know the extent of the financial challenge we are facing."

Pay of the chief fire officer.

The chair sets out some of the figures but claims the additional payment for taking over emergency planning (and the payment he now accepts goes with it) is a matter for the County Council. He also refers to additional payments agreed locally for senior managers.

The County Council have not released this figure even under FoI requests, saying it is a matter for the fire and rescue service. The chair's comments are bizarre. We quote the FRS's own press release saying that emergency planning is now integrated with the county's fire service.

We demand to know what the actual full salary, including any and all additional payments is. Until that happens we are happy the figures quoted in the letters are more akin to the actual pay received in his FRS pay packet by the chief officer for whatever reason, by whatever mechanism.

6 09 2010

Emergency Planning has officially become part of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

The former Essex County Council Department is now integrated as part of the county's fire service.

Essex County Council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, Councillor Tracey Chapman, whose portfolio also covers Emergency Planning, stated: "I welcome the proposal to merge two highly regarded services to bring about improvement in resilience and recovery for the people of Essex."

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said he was delighted to have secured the new arrangement and looked forward to the challenge of his new role. "This is a great responsibility and a chance for the fire service to demonstrate its capabilities beyond traditional areas of expertise. Like Essex County Council, we have strong internal expertise and have, for some time now, been playing a pivotal role in resilience planning county-wide.

"We have already met with members of the Essex team and they are as positive and excited about this new collaborative arrangement as we are. We look forward to working together in the future."

Pay of the chief officer and other senior managers. We quote the FRS press release below which makes clear there have been "incentivized" payments, which we assume are additional payments made for what are sometimes called "resilience" contracts.

We demand to know what these payments are and how much they amount to.

Press release 10 11 2010

Plans to greatly improve public safety by offering incentivised 'no strike' contracts for key groups of firefighters were approved by Essex Fire Authority today (Wednesday).

The move is designed to guarantee public safety in the face of the increased likelihood of industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union.

Members of the Fire Authority's Policy and Strategy Committee gave the initiative their full backing at a meeting on Wednesday. EFA Chairman, Councillor Anthony Hedley said this was a sensible move designed to deliver certainty to ECFRS' service delivery in uncertain times. He praised senior managers for acting swiftly following the recent high profile dispute in London and said this was a decision the public would expect elected members to make on their behalf.

Until the full details of the pay, including any additional payments agreed locally are known then there remains a question mark over what the fire service is now saying in relation to all the pay, including that of Mike Clayton. But it is not much of a defence to say that Mr Clayton's pay has only increased by 45% over the period to which the chair refers. The underlying truth remains – there have been very large pay rises paid to an ever-expanding group of managers at the top of the service.

We are checking some of the details of the cuts to uniformed personnel. But again it is little defence to say the cuts were only 70 uniformed personnel and not 80. We are investigating the detailed figures, but the central truth remains – an expanding group of senior managers managing fewer uniformed personnel are getting very large pay rises well above that enjoyed by other less senior uniformed personnel including firefighters.

Contact Information

  • Fire Brigades Union
    020 8541 1765