The Union and Fire Service Bargaining Teams met again on Tuesday 14th April.
In response to the Union’s claims, the Fire Service’s Bargaining Team advised an offer comprising:
a) Changes to Sick Leave
- Changing entitlements from consecutive days to working days; 10 working days a year compared to the present 28 consecutive days a year.
- No maximum on the amount of Sick Leave that could be accumulated.
- Removal of the present provision that provides no deduction for Sick Leave if you become sick whilst at work.
b) Changes to the Transfer Policy that:
- Changes references for C.F.O. to Area Manager.
- Addition that a Station preference system within multi Station Districts will comply with the requirement to notify vacancies within the District.
c) Providing the S.M.S principles presently in Schedule 5 into the C.A. proper, under Part 2, Clause 5.
d) Terms of Reference for a Review of the P.C.A. – this will not include the content of the P.C.A.
e) Changes to the Time Banking provision – any time banked to be taken within 12 months of being earned. If not taken within 12 months, time banked to be lost.
f) A 1% increase for a 12 month term.
g) Advice that the Commission’s position on TEPs is that these will not be made available to anyone in the future. Therefore could not agree to provide a T.E.P. for anyone who wishes this option.
This position of the Fire Service was considered by the Union Committee on 20th April.
The Committee had received a request from both the Commission Chairperson, Dame Margaret Bazley and the Chief Executive Mike Hall to attend and address the Committee. Consequently Dame Margaret Bazley, Angela Foulkes (Commission member), Mike Hall and Janine Hearn (Director of Human Resources) attended the Committee meeting for around 1½ hours.
Clearly the Commission (and all other Public Sector employers) are under specific and direct instructions from the government to offer no wage increases unless commensurate savings are achieved.
At the conclusion of the discussion, which was frank and free, the Fire Service proposed high level discussions, including Mike Hall, looking at all aspects of the Fire Service budget to see whether agreed savings can be found that could then be applied for a wage increase.
Given the requirements of the Employment Relations Act, the Committee agreed that this was a proposal that had to be accepted on the basis of good faith from both parties. This work will commence next week.
The Committee is well aware of the growing levels of frustration from members at the slow progress of the negotiations. Committee members themselves share this frustration.
However, given the level of direct government involvement in the negotiations process, and the requirements of good faith bargaining provisions, the Committee sees no alternative but to explore all possibilities of achieving an acceptable settlement.