'No confidence' vote on Scotland's fire chief

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Image caption Firefighters have been offered more pay for taking on more responsibilities

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has passed a vote of no confidence in senior managers at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

The union said it was concerned about the availability of fire appliances and the dependence on overtime to maintain staffing levels.

The FBU Scottish Regional Committee move singled out fire chief Alasdair Hay and his senior leadership team.

The SFRS said it was "perplexed" by the vote of no confidence.

Its board urged the FBU to "put politics to one side" and "do what is right for their members and the communities they serve".

The FBU claimed the SFRS had yet to address issues related to the integration of Scotland's regional fire services. They were merged into the national service in 2013.

The union said there were still different terms and conditions in place for firefighters from the eight "legacy" services, which it described as "unacceptable".

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's John Beattie programme, FBU Scotland's regional secretary Denise Christie said: "The issue here is that we believe that our members deserve to have decent terms and conditions before we move forward into looking at service transformation."

Pay offer

Asked about whether or not the vote of no confidence was backed by all union members, Ms Christie said it was passed at a regional committee meeting by 19 people who reflect the "decision and views from our membership".

She added: "Our members are telling us 'enough is enough'. They are angry and disillusioned.

"We respectfully request the chief fire officer to sit down and discuss meaningful negotiations on the harmonisation of legacy terms and conditions before we move forward."

Last month, it emerged that Scotland's firefighters were being offered a pay rise of up to 20% if they agreed to take on new responsibilities.

Between 200 and 300 jobs could be cut from the service as part of the deal.

Rather than a pay rise, it was described as a new reward package for a new expanded role, tackling terrorism and providing emergency medical care.

The Fire Brigades Union Scotland said at the time it was "wholly unacceptable" that members had been contacted directly about the offer.

Responding to the union announcement about the vote of no confidence, Kirsty Darwent, chairwoman of the board of SFRS, said: "We are perplexed. This comes less than one week into a public consultation on proposals, which could see the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service transform to save more lives.

"The Fire Brigades Union is preventing 7,500 of Scotland's firefighters - many of whom are not FBU members - being given a real chance to do so much more for our communities, and be paid 20% to do so.

"We have always been committed to dialogue. Indeed, since June last year have met with the FBU on 20 separate occasions to discuss harmonisation of existing terms and conditions as well as service transformation."

Ms Darwent said she and Chief Officer Alasdair Hay were "looking forward" to a meeting in London on Monday with FBU assistant general secretary Andy Dark, which they believed was to "continue productive discussions" on the future of the service.

She added: "We once again ask the FBU to put politics to one side, rise above their processes and their procedures and actually do what is right for their members and the communities they serve."

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