FRSA National Update
16 February 2023
Meeting with new Fire Minister
Last month we met with the new Fire Minister, Chris Philps MP for an extremely productive meeting alongside the Fire Officers Association and the Fire Leaders Association, both independent unions in their own right. It is our view that there is benefit in having open and frank discussions with multiple stakeholders as this can generate greater debate and debunk any myths or preconceived perceptions of other organisations.
I am pleased to say that all three unions, which represent frontline staff from firefighters and back-office personnel through to Chief Fire Officers, were all in agreement on a number of key points. We particularly agreed that the current national negotiating machinery is not fit for purpose and needs modernising to provide greater transparency and an input from wider range of stakeholders. There was also agreement that more needs to be done, and at pace, to broaden the role. It was clear that the government is particularly keen for greater collaboration with the ambulance services across the country where there is a request from the NHS. All three unions made comment on the need for the government’s response to the draft white paper consultation to be published as soon as possible to remove on-going uncertainty.
Social Partnership Forum in Wales
The FRSA attended the inaugural meeting of the Social Partnership Forum (Wales) Chaired by the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn MS.
Despite this being the first meeting, the agenda was challenging, covering the recruitment and retention of On-Call staff, the Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill, broadening the role, changes to shift patterns and firefighter safety.
We look forward to further meetings and constructive discussions on a range of issues that impact our members in Wales.
Minimum Service Levels – Work Notices
The government has now published its consultation document relating to Minimum Service Levels during periods of strike action. The Bill will apply to England, Wales and Scotland (Great Britain).
It is proposed that where a trade union gives notice of strike action to an employer, the employer may decide to issue a notice (known as a work notice) ahead of the strike day(s) to specify the persons required to work and the work they must carry out to secure that the Minimum Service Level for that strike period is provided. The work notice must be given no later than seven days before the day of the strike but can be varied up to four days before (or later if agreed with the union).
The employer must consult the union about the numbers of persons to be identified and the work to be specified in the work notice and have regard to their views before issuing the work notice. A work notice must not identify more persons than are reasonably necessary for the purpose of providing the Minimum Service Level. In deciding whether to identify a person in the work notice, the employer must not have regard to whether the person is or is not a union member.
Failure by the union or employee to adhere to the work notice would remove any current legal protection, with the union losing its protection from damages claims and the employee would lose automatic protection from unfair dismissal.
The consultation document is available here, with a closing date of 3rd May 2023.
Chief Executive Officer
We are now on WhatsApp!
In an ongoing effort to make it as easy as possible to contact FRSA HQ we now have our own WhatsApp account. You can contact us via the QR code, just scan the code to add us to your contacts.
Our offer to you
A new information leaflet is available encapsulating the key benefits of being a member of the FRSA. The document is available via our website and we would recommend that this is shared with your colleagues on station.