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MSPs voice concerns over firefighters pay deal offer

The fire service has been criticised for bypassing a union to make a direct offer to employees.

Firefighters: Offer 'ignored union structures' (file pic).
Firefighters: Offer 'ignored union structures' (file pic). SFRS

MSPs have raised concerns about the way a pay offer was made to Scotland's firefighters.

On Tuesday the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) had offered staff a 20% pay rise if they agree to take on new responsibilities.

But the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has criticised the service for writing directly to its members with the proposed deal.

In a statement, the union said: "It is wholly unacceptable for SFRS to ignore our FBU structures by contacting members directly stating that the offer 'represents an extremely attractive proposal' without giving any specific details on that proposal as well as any details on harmonisation of terms and conditions."

The union is "strongly advising" its members to ignore the offer until the proposals have been fully considered by the FBU executive council.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said national pay and bargaining mechanisms had "effectively been bypassed" by FBU not receiving prior notice of the details.

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1407286-fire-service-undermining-union-with-20-pay-rise-offer/ | default

Green MSP John Finnie said he "would have been raging if the employer had bypassed agreed procedures".

He called on community safety minister Annabelle Ewing to send a message to public-sector employers by directing the SFRS to adhere to collective bargaining procedures.

Ms Ewing told the Holyrood chamber: "I was concerned to note that due process had not been followed.

"However, I was also very encouraged at the same time to note the FBU's willingness nonetheless to engage in discussion with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and that is right and proper.

"The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have confirmed that formal negotiations will be conducted through agreed collective bargaining arrangements."

Kirsty Darwent, SFRS chair, told STV News: "Our firefighters have been asking us for more information about what a transformation proposal might look like.

"So we felt we wanted to be honest, open and transparent and tell them what we were proposing before we launched into the final negotiations with the unions."

Reports have suggested that between 200 and 300 jobs could be lost as part of the deal.

Ms Ewing emphasised there would be no compulsory redundancies under the proposals but that operational detail was a matter for the SFRS to discuss with the FBU.

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