Greater Manchester firefighters said they are "astonished" that fire and rescue service managers have announced plans to sack every frontline firefighter in the area, totalling 1250.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) managers are planning to sack all of its firefighters using Section 188 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, then re-engage those who agree to a new 12-hour shift system.
The whole process has begun with limited discussion and no agreement from Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members states the union, which represents around 95% of all firefighters in Greater Manchester.
The proposed new arrangements mean that one in five firefighter posts will be slashed, 250 posts in total, with the remainder having worse conditions imposed on them. Firefighters would hardly see their families under the new 12-hour shift arrangements, states the union.
"We are staggered that GMFRS would jeopardise relations with its workforce in this aggressive way" says Greater Manchester brigade secretary Gary Keary "To start the process for dismissing firefighters to then simply re-engage them on an un-negotiated contract is really appalling, and a serious breach of the agreed mechanisms for industrial relations in the UK fire and rescue service.
"We at the FBU will do everything we can to resolve what could turn into a bitter and damaging dispute using agreed procedures" he adds "Since the notice of the sacking proposals was issued, we have been contacted by lots of angry FBU members. We will continue to consult with them regarding the best way forward. This is the third change to shift systems in Greater Manchester since 2006 – surely firefighters are entitled to some sort of stability in their working lives."
Figures released by GMFRS show an increase of 140% in all rescues over the last twelve months, alongside an extremely worrying threefold increase in fire deaths, and firefighters in the region are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of repeated cuts on public safety.