Clarification regarding ARA success for On-Call firefighters in Scotland
The FRSA has been made aware of a claim by another union via its website that it has secured pay parity for On-Call Scottish firefighters.
While we acknowledge that the actual outcome is the most important issue for On-Call firefighters in Scotland, we would wish to provide a clarification as to how exactly this success was achieved.
We, along with other representative bodies in Scotland had been in negotiations with Scottish Fire to come to an agreement relating to the Standardisation of the terms and conditions for Retained/On-Call firefighters in the country (moving eight fire services into one).
When the service presented its proposals to us at the beginning of 2018 we immediately wrote to the service (February 2018) to express our dissatisfaction regarding the issue of Additional Responsibility Allowances (ARAs) and the Continual Professional Development (CPD) rates for On-Call staff.
The service provided their response in April 2018 and were refusing to be flexible on these two points.
At the current time there are only two On-Call stations in Scotland that receive an ARA, Newton Stewart and Fort William.
Despite negotiations continuing it became clear that we could not come to an agreement with the service relating to ARAs for our On-Call members. This resulted in a letter (02 November 2018) to the service confirming that our members would withdraw from undertaking this role in the future unless an agreement could be reached and parity achieved. Talks continued culminating in the service writing to the FRSA to confirm that during a meeting of the Remuneration, Appointments and Nominations Sub-Committee (12th December), based on feedback received from the rep bodies, the committee agreed to pay our members an ARA at the same rate as their Wholetime colleagues. A victory for On-Call firefighters in Scotland.
However, it is important to remember why On-Call firefighters were treated inferior compared to their Wholetime colleagues in the first place, whereby they were paid only 25% of a Wholetime ARA and still receive only 25% of a Wholetime CPD rate. This is a legacy of the national agreement between the FBU and the National Employers under the auspices of the NJC, following the national strike in 2002/3.
We feel that it’s a bit rich for another union to now claim a great victory for On-Call firefighters in Scotland when the truth is, it was they who agreed for On-Call firefighters to be poorly treated in the first place.
If the FBU is genuinely committed to the cause to provide further parity for On-Call firefighters regarding ARAs and CPD not just in Scotland but across the UK, we would welcome their support to further this objective.
We felt it necessary to issue this clarification to all On-Call firefighters so that they are aware of the facts rather than the spin.