FIREFIGHTERS are furious at plans to sack the entire workforce of Greater Manchester.
All 1,250 firefighters in the area are to be sacked. Only those who agree to new imposed conditions of service will get their jobs back. Using the most vicious anti-trade union legislation, Section 188 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service (GMFRS) managers are planning to sack all their frontline firefighters.
They will only consider re-engaging those who agree to a new 12-hour shift system.
The system has parallels with the junior doctors struggle, where doctors are being made to work such long shifts that patient safety is compromised. Under the new shift pattern, firefighters will become so tired that those who need recuing from fires will be at risk. The new system will also mean that firefighters would hardly see their families.
Karl Sorfleet, membership secretary FBU Manchester said: ‘Effectively, if you can be sacked and dismissed and then made to re-apply for your own job then this could affect every fire service in the country. If they think that this is an easy way to get something through, then other brigades will do the same.
‘The FBU will organise a political fight, legal fight and industrial fight against this.
‘I can’t specify what is going to happen at this moment because the committee is meeting today with the general secretary to decide what action to take. This has the ability to become a national issue and a national dispute. The amount of support on our social media and the messages of support from other fire brigades and other trade unions up and down the country is amazing.’
Greater Manchester brigade secretary Gary Keary said: ‘We are staggered that GMFRS would jeopardise relations with its workforce in this aggressive way. To start the process for dismissing firefighters to then simply re-engage them on an un-negotiated contract is really appalling, and a serious breach of the agreed mechanisms for industrial relations in the UK fire and rescue service.
‘We at the FBU will do everything we can to resolve what could turn into a bitter and damaging dispute using agreed procedures. Since the notice of the sacking proposals was issued, we have been contacted by lots of angry FBU members.’