For my report I will be analysing the recent events of the fire brigade strike. To start off it is important to address the reasons what they are going on strike. Since 1978 firefighters pay was linked to manual work, since the initial link from more than 25 years ago, their pay had fallen in real terms whilst the demands placed on them had increased in the skills used, total training required and the number of incidents they attend . It has been noted that their jobs have been classified as "professionals", however their pay does not reflect this. The fire fighters want a fair deal.
Throughout this assignment I will be linking issues of the industrial dispute to with topics discussed in lectures. These include trade unions, collective bargaining and strikes & industrial action. Why does the FBU want 40%? Unions say the present pay scheme – which was agreed after the last national strike in 1977 – is outdated and members are losing out. Governments reason for not giving in to the 40% Tony Blair stated that if they were to give the increase that the Fire Brigade union is asking for they will have to give to all public services which are not possible in practice. Trade unions
There are many different organizations that are able to represent the employers and the employees, for the fire brigade their union is the fire Brigade Union (FBU). The features of the union are it is registered, they are highly interested in collective bargaining and the protection of its members interests are its main function. They are also prepared to take industrial action to further its member's interests. This will be later discussed in the report in more detail. Fire Fighters and Fire Control Operators pay has fallen to a point that they are now able to claim Working Families tax credit.
This is highly unacceptable for a profession that has been classified as professional. The FBU are in talks with the employers and the government. Both parties agree that a pay increase in needed but the 40% which the union is asking for is too much of a big claim. The government where playing their role behind the scenes of the negotiations, why is this? The consequences of this tactic by the government caused the go ahead for the strikes, the government blocked a pay offer by the fire service employers which could have started the first step towards negotiations.
During the dispute the trade unions does have its advantages and disadvantages for the fire fighters. The advantage is that eventually the pay will be increased; so far the offer stands at 16%. The disadvantage however is the conditioning which has been set by the government, a threat of redundancies is on the table. In solving the original problem another one is created. The fire brigade union has its weaknesses, government legislation. Much of the legislation that existed in the UK in the 1980's and the early 1990's was a result of the Conservative party with leadership from Margaret Thatcher.
She and her followers are totally against Trade unions. Her view of Trade unions was they are disruptive, constantly causing industrial stoppages. Closed shops restricted the rights of employees not to belong to a union. All of he factors mentioned were making strong contributions in harming the efficiency of British industry. This soon changed when the Labour party came into power, their views about Trade unions were totally opposite to those of the conservative party.
This is a promising factor for the FBU as the government will try their best to come up with a solution that is in favor of the FBU as well as the government. It is good for the fire Brigade union that Labour is the political influence. Labour signed the European Social Chapter, it is believed it would create and improve the protection of employees in the workplace and encourage the partnership between unions and businesses. Form listening to the news and reading newspapers we can see that this is being put into practice.
On numerous occasions both fire service employers, the government and unions have come together to try to resolve the problem. Collective bargaining Collective bargaining is one way of minimizing the conflict between the two parties. The conflict will be solves through negotiations from their representatives, as mentioned previously the Trade Union representative is Andy Gilchrist and the employers representative is John Ransford. It is essential that the fire brigade become a collective as one person voicing their opinion will have little or no effect as the fire brigade is such a large organization.
There are in total 52,000 fire fighters have joined forces to overcome this battle. The negotiation process is long and daunting, the agenda of their meetings follow the basic outline of the employees claim is voiced first and then the local authority employees later. Both parties support their arguments with facts. As mentioned previously many negotiations can take place. There have been several offers brought forward however the union is not 100% satisfied that they will meet their needs.