MORAY FIREFIGHTERS COULD strike later this year over a dispute with the Scottish Government over around one quarter of their staff throughout Scotland facing as much as a 35% cut in their salaries.
Around 800 civilian staff are affected by new salary and grading plans being brought in as part of the eight regional fire brigades being switched to a single national organisation.
While further talks are due to take place next week between Unison and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), a spokesman for the union has warned that agreement based on what is currently being offered is not possible.
A spokeswoman for the SFRS said: “The board and the trade unions have reluctantly accepted that an agreement on a revised support staff pay and reward framework cannot be achieved at this stage and therefore have reached a failure to agree within the formal process.
“Accordingly, we have formally notified the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) of the failure to achieve a collective agreement.
“The SFRS will commence a statutory period of 45 days consultation with the trade unions, during which it is hoped we can identify measures that would facilitate a collective agreement.
“The service remains committed to offering staff an attractive pay and reward package that recognises their contribution.”
A Unison spokesman added: “The package on offer from SFRS will never be acceptable to our members. More money has to be put into SFRS by the Scottish Government to enable a fair and just package to be put to our members.”
Last night the Labour MSP for Highlands and Islands (including Moray) Rhoda Grant said that it was once again support staff who were bearing the brunt of cost-cutting within centralised services.
She added: “The level of funding cuts for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service makes it inevitable that there will need to be swingeing cuts. That these cuts fall on support staff is short sighted and unfair. Support staff are a crucial part of the service and must be valued as such.
“The Scottish Government in setting up the centralised service did so in a way that means it is levied with VAT payments. Had they been more inclusive this could have been avoided and these funding cuts would not have been required.”