Back in May 2017 the FBU submitted to the National Employers a pay claim (an annual process). The document did not contain any figures, only statements relating to additional work currently being undertaken now and further work (EMR and MTFA) in the future.
In early July the Employers made the following offer:
(i) Stage 1 – to immediately apply a 2.0% increase on basic pay across the board with effect from 1st July 2017. This includes CPD payments. This will allow time to reach a permanent agreement that can meet both parties’ aspirations.
(ii) We expect to be able to reach a deal through the NJC which would: build upon the current broadening the role of firefighters negotiations; agree a permanent position; and include how the arrangements for the pay awards for 2018, 2019, and possibly 2020 will be staged fitting into an overall pay framework (including that relating to Retained Duty System firefighters).
(iii) Stage 2 – Assuming the deal referred to in (ii) above is reached, we will apply a further 3% increase with effect from 1st April 2018 as part of the 2017 settlement.
(iv) However as you are aware fire and rescue services have had to deal with significantly reduced finances over recent years. Therefore, to be absolutely clear, in order to be able to apply the stage 2 increase it will also have to be subject to governments across the UK providing funding to enable us to do so.
(v) We would want to urgently discuss with all four UK governments as soon as possible, both jointly and where appropriate separately, how the service can be put on a firm financial footing to enable change to be achieved. The role of the service has evolved and needs to continue to evolve.
(vi) In the interim, the current positions in respect of work being undertaken by employees through the trials and that related to MTFA would need to be maintained throughout the negotiation.
Two days later, this offer was deemed ‘unacceptable’ by the FBU Executive and they stated that because of a lack of agreement, the Emergency Medical Response (EMR) trials would cease as of 24 August 2017.
However, by mid-August the FBU Executive had a change of heart, recommending their members accept the same offer that they previously found unacceptable. EMR trials continued while they consulted their membership on the offer.
The consultation process resulted in the offer being rejected by their members and the EMR trials ceased as of today (18 September 2017).
Important message for RFU members
It is important for us to reiterate, that the Co-Responders Schemes that were not part of the trials and have been in operation for many years will be unaffected by the aforementioned decision.
Our members who undertake Co-Responder duties will continue to be protected and receive our full support, exactly as has been the case previously. This will also be the case for new members going forward.
As an organisation we recognised the benefits being a part of these Co-Responder schemes could bring to our members many, many years ago and rather than wait for the national negotiating machinery to realise this fact, we entered into local arrangements up and down the country. Doing so has saved hundreds of lives over this time, improved the recruitment and retention at On-Call stations and improved the reliability and sustainability of stations that otherwise could have been identified for closure.
The fire service received over 45,000 Co-Responder calls last year and more than 31,000 calls the year before and we expect the demand to increase further. This makes a mockery of having EMR trials in the first place as the evidence of their value is already available locally.
On the issue of the pay offer itself, and speaking as an organisation whose membership not only already undertakes EMR duties but also welcomes the opportunity to widen the operational role (where there is both a public demand and the will of the membership), we would concur with the FBU Executive and deem the offer agreeable pending further details on future arrangements in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
It is unfortunate therefore that operational staff are now being kept in a state of limbo regarding what the future holds in terms of pay.
We will provide further updates when they become available.