Firefighters to ballot for industrial action in South Yorkshire over loss of vital control operator jobs 

Firefighters in South Yorkshire will be balloted for industrial action in protest over plans which include cutting a quarter of all emergency control operators within the fire and rescue service and changes to firefighters’ leave arrangements.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say that the senior managers at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue who were recently shamed into agreeing to pay back tens of thousands of pounds in overtime payments, have proposed the cuts without any meaningful consultation or negotiation.

Pete Smith, regional secretary of the FBU in Yorkshire, said:

“Fire chiefs have lost the trust and respect of their staff through these savage cuts to fire control, leaving us with no option but to ballot for industrial action.

“Emergency control staff are the very first people you’ll speak to when you’re in an emergency. Firefighters rely on them to get all the vital information to perform a rescue as fast and efficiently as possible. They are an invaluable component of the lifesaving service firefighters provide. The public in South Yorkshire will be put at greater risk if these posts are cut.

“The recent scandal of high ranking – and highly paid – chief fire officers choosing to accept tens of thousands of pounds in overtime payments shows the complete disconnect between senior managers and the people working on the frontline. Fire chiefs must learn that South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is not a dictatorship but a professional and valued public service.”

Firefighters were forced into an industrial dispute last December following changes to the way staffing schedules and leave are assigned, as well as failures of the service to comply with nationally agreed industrial relations protocol.

Pete Smith added:

“We have tried to resolve these issues locally by utilising the nationally agreed procedures in place but managers have dismissed them. It has left us little option but to lodge an industrial dispute with the Fire Authority.”

South Yorkshire fire authority chair Jim Andrews was given the option of averting a ballot by facilitating a meeting between the FBU and authority members but refused to do so.