Firefighters' pay dispute goes to tribunal

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Firefighters' pay dispute goes to tribunal

Post by GD on Thu 17 Mar 2011, 9:35 pm

Guernsey's town firefighters are pushing for a major pay rise.

Negotiations with the States have not been able to resolve the pay dispute, so it has gone to a tribunal.

Today's (Thursday's) hearing revealed the dispute stems right back to when airport fire crews took up industrial action, two years ago.

In 2009, Guernsey Airport shut down, as airport firefighters took industrial action in a row over pay and conditions.

The States negotiators PSRC would not give in to their demands, and the fire crews did not believe a tribunal would solve key issues, like recruitment and retention, a long-running problem.

Eventually a deal was struck, but the row saw the entire PSRC committee resign, and replaced with new members.

Some of the old PSRC warned giving into the airport fire crews demands, fearing long-term consequences in future pay negotiations and today an industrial tribunal heard those fears were manifesting now.

This time it is the Town firefighters who will not accept the States pay increase of 1.5%

They want a deal that reflects the job they do in comparison with their counterparts at the airport, so they're asking for 7% more than what airport firefighters get in terms of salary.

They also want equal overtime pay when they are called in while off-duty and the same rate for being on standby and for having a callback system.

The States firefighters, or Town firefighters as they are known because they are based in St Peter Port, say their job is bigger than that of the airport firefighters.

They have more responsibilities and if they are on a job together, which does happen, the Town firefighters outrank both their airport counterparts and retainer or back-up crews.

But they say pay scales do not reflect that, and its even sometimes the case where one of the full-time Town firefighters is in charge of an airport or retainer firefighter who earns more than him.

But the States say the deal for airport firefighters was special, and tackled unique problems of hiring and keeping staff, which the Town force does not have at present.

PSRC say it was the union who asked for each group to be looked at on an individual basis, not as a one-size-fits-all.

It is a complicated history for the tribunal members to pick through, and that is what they will do tonight (Thursday) and tomorrow, before telling the Town fire service what deal they are going to get. (from CTV)


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