MSPs criticise fire service over pay deal offer

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MSPs have raised concerns about the way a pay offer was put to Scotland’s firefighters.

It emerged on Tuesday that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) had offered staff a 20% pay rise if they agree to take on new responsibilities.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has criticised the service for writing directly to its members with the proposed deal.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said national pay and bargaining mechanisms had “effectively been bypassed” by FBU not receiving prior sight of the details.

Green MSP John Finnie said he “would have been raging if the employer had bypassed agreed procedures”.

He called on community safety minister Annabelle Ewing to send a message to public-sector employers by directing the SFRS to adhere to collective bargaining procedures.

Ms Ewing told the Holyrood chamber: “I was concerned to note that due process had not been followed.

“However, I was also very encouraged at the same time to note the FBU’s willingness nonetheless to engage in discussion with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and that is right and proper.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have confirmed that formal negotiations will be conducted through agreed collective bargaining arrangements.”

Reports have suggested that between 200 and 300 jobs could be lost as part of the deal.

Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said the public would have “legitimate concerns” about the move being “cuts by the back door”.

Ms Ewing emphasised there would be no compulsory redundancies under the proposals but that operational detail was a matter for the SFRS to discuss with the FBU.

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