Firefighters in action over pay

Firefighters across Norfolk embittered by a pay dispute took unofficial strike action yesterday by only responding to emergency calls.

Firefighters across Norfolk embittered by a pay dispute took unofficial strike action yesterday by only responding to emergency calls.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) downed tools over a pay settlement which was agreed nationally following the spate of strikes by firefighters three years ago.

The settlement included the withdrawal of long service pay increments, which was finally scrapped on Sunday with a new system of pay for loyal workers to be used instead.

Neil Day, brigade secretary of the FBU, said firefighters acted because the new system had not been put in place, with affected staff losing pay as a result.

“Our members are losing money and they haven't got the option of make that money up,” he said.

“The agreement was that they could take long service increments away, phase it out and replace it with continual professional development.”

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The pay system was agreed nationally but implemented locally, added Mr Day, who claimed the terms of the continual professional development - and what workers had to do to qualify - had not been agreed.

The new pay scheme is based on the principle that officers can earn a bonus for skills and expertise gained through years of experience with the fire service.

Mr Day said duties that did not involve emergency situations would continue to be overlooked until chief fire officer Richard Elliott agreed to discuss the issue.

“Quite clearly it will stop if the chief fire officer puts a statement out saying that we will return to the status quo,” he added.

In a statement, Mr Elliott said: “These changes were agreed as part of the 2003 pay settlement and were signed up to by all parties.

“It was agreed they be implemented in line with the national agreement guidelines, something we have always sought to do.

“We are seeking to work with the FBU to see a resumption of normal working as soon as possible.”