Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

October 15, 2009 11:15 ET

South Yorkshire Fire Dispute-Union Says Fire Authority's Latest Position has the Appearance of 'Old, Stale Beer Put Into a New Bottle'

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Oct. 15, 2009) - The Fire Brigades Union say they are wary of a last minute move from South Yorkshire fire bosses which has the appearance of "old stale beer that's been put in a new bottle." The union says it has still received nothing from the fire authority and that at this stage strikes set for next week will go ahead.

The union says it is disappointed that the fire authority appears to consider it more urgent to send out press releases than convey their proposals to the FBU. This underlines the union's concern the latest position of the fire authority is little more than a publicity stunt.

Ian Murray FBU regional secretary said: "We will enter any talks aimed at resolving the dispute at any time without the pre-conditions the fire authority is demanding. The authority appears desperate to make it look like it is seeking a compromise while simply making old debating points.

"Their latest position does not resolve the dispute, but simply drags the process out. The threat of mass sackings is not withdrawn, but simply extended by another three months.

"This has all the hallmarks of another publicity stunt. Their latest position has the appearance of old, stale beer that's been put into a new bottle.

"The fire authority has never accepted the recommendation of the national mediators, but wants to pretend it has by cherry-picking one recommendation and adding its own conditions. It did this when the recommendation was made which was why the FBU was unable to accept.

John Gilliver, FBU brigade secretary said: "The independent mediator, Professor Brown, did not recommend 12 hour shifts anywhere in his report and the fire authority should not pretend he did. He explicitly rejected the South Yorkshire Fire Authority 12 hour shift proposal but it seems they won't take no for an answer.

"At confidential talks in London three weeks ago Jim Andrews, the chair of the authority, agreed to seek the assistance of the national employers and union to help broker an agreement. By the time he got off the train at Barnsley a few hours later, he pulled out of those talks and broke that commitment.

"On Tuesday this week assistant chief officer Jamie Courtney said the authority was not interested in picking up the phone to arrange further talks. The fire authority has been playing unhelpful games about talks and constantly changes it position or repackages old 'offers'.

"The threat to dismiss 744 firefighters remains and has been extended another three months and that is the major stumbling block. Another three months of bullying and threats is not an attractive proposition.

"We will carefully consider any genuine offer of meaningful talks when it arrives with us and we will not reject them without seeing the actual content rather than what is in a press statement. But at this point in time the strikes will go ahead next week.

"We would urge the fire authority to seek the assistance of national employers and union negotiators. Jim Andrews agreed to this three weeks ago and we do not understand why he has reversed that position."


BBC1 North (Leeds) Look North 13 October 18.30


With six days to go, you could pick up the phone now, couldn't you, to the FBU, couldn't you, and say, 'Let's get round the table again.' Are you going to do that?


Well, we got round the table yesterday -


But are you going to do it again in the next six days?


We remain available to discuss this situation with them at any time, day or night, between now and next Monday.


So are you picking up the phone?


We're not at the moment -


Why not?


Because we've explained to the front members, the officers of the Fire Brigades Union, the situation we find ourselves in. We believe still that our proposals are entirely reasonable.

Contact Information

  • Regional and local media contacts:
    Ian Murray
    07967 103345
    Jeremy Pagan
    07977 931086