Welsh FBU Fury Over Doubled Working Hours

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The South Wales Branch of the Fire Brigades Union is organising a ballot for industrial action to fight plans by senior Brigade management to introduce a new duty system into the Brigade, called the Self Rostering System.

Under this system, which it is proposed will be introduced on three fire stations at Maesteg, Penarth and New Inn (Pontypool), 50 jobs will be cut from the establishment and the firefighters left working at those stations will have to double their weekly working hours from 42 to 96 hours per week.

Following a series of branch meetings and mass meetings of Firefighters, Fire Control Staff and Fire Officers, the South Wales Brigade Committee which represents fire stations from across South Wales, agreed unanimously at their meeting on Thursday night to formally register a trade dispute with the South Wales Fire & Rescue Authority and ballot members for industrial action short of strike.

Mark Watt, South Wales Brigade Chair, said: ‘It was a very heated meeting in that all of the branch reps on behalf of their members voiced their anger at management’s insistence that this duty system will be introduced and they decided that the only way to try and resist its introduction was to ballot the members for industrial action short of strike. At this point in time they do not want to jeopardise the safety of the public by taking strike action but they do want to express their anger at the management of the South Wales Fire Service.’

Cerith Griffiths, Brigade Secretary for South Wales and recently elected Regional Chair for Wales who was present at the meeting, said: ‘Our members are incensed at the proposal to introduce this duty system, which will mean that the length of their working week and the time spent at the fire station will more than double to at least 96 hours per week.

‘In the 21st century that is totally unacceptable and we will do everything we can, including taking strike action to defeat these proposals. We are confident of a resounding Yes vote in the ballot.’