"Government to Do Deal with Firefighters"

By Whelan, Charlie | New Statesman (1996), November 18, 2002 | Go to article overview

"Government to Do Deal with Firefighters"


Whelan, Charlie, New Statesman (1996)


Never in the history of industrial relations has a government so cocked up the handling of a dispute. Many people sympathetic to the firefighters were initially critical of the union's decision not to co-operate with the so-called independent inquiry. How right the Fire Brigades Union proved to be.

Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former Unison general secretary, was asked to go on the Bain inquiry into firefighers' pay, but refused when Andy Gilchrist, the FBU general secretary, told him that the union would still have to oppose Bain. How relieved Bickerstaffe must be that he had nothing to do with Bain's report. Never mind the insult of a 4 per cent offer in the first year; Bain had the nerve to say that the "firemen" should have more women in the brigade - something the union has been arguing in favour of for years. Bain's idea of a more family-friendly fire service is for firefighters to work more hours. …

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