20 September 2016
All 1,250 frontline firefighters in Greater Manchester have been given their notice in an attempt to force them to accept a new contract.
Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service (GMFRS) managers want to impose a new 12-hour shift arrangement, which the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says would make it difficult for workers to spend time with their families.
In an attempt to make budget cuts of £14.4 million over the next four years, the GMFRS will also slash its workforce by 20%, accounting for 250 jobs.
If firefighters do not agree to these terms, the service has threatened to dismiss its entire workforce next April under Section 188 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and only re-engage those who will accept the new conditions.
This is the third change to the workers’ shift arrangements since 2006 and the FBU – of which 95% of Manchester’s firefighters are members – have vowed to continue consulting with workers about the best way forward.
What’s more, there are concerns that the service’s actions could put Greater Manchester’s population at great risk. Figures released by GMFRS show there has been a massive increase in rescues made by its workforce of 140% over the last 12 months, while the number of people dying in fires in the region has tripled.
Greater Manchester Brigade secretary for the FBU Gary Keary said: “We are staggered that GMFRS would jeopardise relations with its workforce in this aggressive way.
“To start the process for dismissing firefighters to then simply re-engage them on an un-negotiated contract is really appalling, and a serious breach of the agreed mechanisms for industrial relations in the UK fire and rescue service.
“We at the FBU will do everything we can to resolve what could turn into a bitter and damaging dispute using agreed procedures.”