PS50m funding gap could see Scottish fire service civilian staff strike

Some staff to see reductions to their salaries of up to 35 per cent

FIRE SERVICE civilian staff in Scotland could take part in industrial action if new pay grades and conditions are imposed by management as part of cuts to the centralised Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

As part of the merger of the eight previous regional fire services into a single service, with Unison officials estimate that approximately a quarter of civilian staff will see a reduction in their wage to deal with a PS50m funding gap, with some staff losing up 35 per cent.

The Scotsman has quoted a Unison official as saying: "The package on offer from SFRS will never be acceptable to our members. More money has to be put into SFRS [Scottish Fire and Rescue Service] by the Scottish Government to enable a fair and just package to be put to our members."

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was created on 1 April 2013, along with the single Scottish police force, in an effort to make huge savings.

Some control rooms and emergency call centres have been closed by both the fire service and the police force. It has been suggested that the closing of police emergency call centres was a contributing factor in the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill in Stirling.

The fire service has said that there is a funding gap of PS48.2m. Contributing to this is the fact that the Scottish fire service is the only one in the UK which is required to pay VAT on items such as equipment, vehicles and fuel.

The annual cost in VAT for the fire service is estimated at PS10m, which could provide 350 additional firefighters.

Unison represents back room staff, hydrant testers, mechanics, and other staff, while the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) represents wholetime and retained firefighters and emergency call handlers.