10 June 2016
TO: ALL MEMBERS
NATIONAL JOINT COUNCIL WORK-STREAMS: EXTENSION OF TRIALS
The Executive Council met this week and considered issues arising from our discussions with the employers through the National Joint Council (NJC). Our conference has been debating the future of our service for some time, and over the past two years, this has included the opening of discussions with our employers on the work currently undertaken by firefighters; the work which might be undertaken, and whether such work is currently contractual or not. The FBU has made clear throughout these discussions that we would seek to ensure that in relation to any changes, we would seek adequate training and resources. We have also been clear that the issue of pay would be part of these discussions.
Arising out of these discussions with the employers, the NJC endorsed a series of trials on new work, mainly focussed on emergency medical response or related activity. There are currently 31 trails in place. The Executive Council has heard varying reports of these trails, including various concerns and problems. The discussion with our employers has also attempted to address the need for a full, vigorous and independent assessment of the evidence, including the data from the trials. We are currently working with the employers to identify the appropriate person/people to draft this report.
The Executive Council is conscious of the need to make a strong case to the various government ministers across the UK for the necessary funding if such broader areas of work are to be taken on by the fire and rescue service. It is in this context that our conference recently authorised negotiations around extending the trials. As a result of the subsequent discussions, these trails will be extended until February 2017. The NJC circular (NJC/5/16) is attached.
Local concerns and problems
The NJC trails do not in any way remove normal obligations on employers in relation to health and safety or industrial relations. Indeed, the NJC has been explicit that any such trials need to be discussed at local level and these discussions should continue throughout the trials. Therefore problems which arise in relation to issues such as mobilising, training, operational procedures, welfare or any such matters can and should be raised immediately with managers and with local FBU officials.
No final agreement in place
It is also important to note that no final agreement has been made or even discussed at this stage. The FBU has made clear that various areas of the work being considered are not covered by our current contracts. Any change to the contractual arrangements within the service would be the subject of negotiation and agreement. These issues are complex and difficult and likely to take some time. We will issue as much information as possible at the earliest opportunity, including an initial assessment of the data from the various trials.