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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 13:52 GMT
Fire dispute: Working practices row
Firefighters in Yorkshire prepare to strike
Firefighters in Yorkshire prepare to strike
Employers in the fire dispute say that pay is not the only issue at stake - they also want to see the service change for the 21st Century. But the Fire Brigades Union says modernisation is code for cuts and employers must agree a fair pay deal before there are any more changes to the service.

So what are the key arguments in the modernisation debate? Follow the table below for more:

Firefighters' dispute: What both sides say on the service's future
Working conditions
Employers say:The FBU says:
Employers want an end to the overtime ban. They say that all other workers are allowed to work overtime if they wish but the FBU prevents its members from doing so. The Audit Commission says this hampers flexibility.This argument cuts both ways. Firefighters' pay has been linked to a specific level of earnings for years, rather than a package that reflects actual working arrangements. The FBU says the overtime ban protects jobs and manning levels.
Employers say:The FBU says:
The shift system is outdated and does not allow flexibility within the fire service. Two of the major problems are that it discourages women from joining up and is not family-friendly.Firefighters fear jobs will go as employers demand more work for the same pay. A significant bone of contention is firefighters do not get enhanced pay for nights or weekends, unlike others.
Future of the service
Employers say:The FBU says:
The employers want fire fighters to gain other emergency skills to improve collaboration between services. They argue the ban on using defibrillators is costing lives. Another idea is that firefighters should be allowed to train as paramedics to increase the chances of saving lives.The modern firefighter's skills are comparable to a "modern technician" rather than a "traditional craft worker". The job has changed to deal with scenarios including road and air accidents and chemical emergencies. Turning firefighters into paramedics disguises funding problems in the ambulance service.
Employers say:The FBU says:
The fire service's role in the 21st Century is more to do with addressing community safety rather than just putting out fires. This means they need to be flexible enough to take on roles ranging from education through to tackling major situations such as a terrorist attack. Firefighters already have a role far beyond just putting out fires, but they are not rewarded for it. Training continues throughout a member's career as they master new sophisticated equipment. If the service is to change to one of community safety, then pay has to reflect this highly skilled role.


Key stories

Features and analysis

How they compare

In pictures

CLICKABLE GUIDE

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 VOTE RESULTS
Do you back the firefighters' strike?

Yes
 4.07% 

No
 95.93% 

64332 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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