Firefighters must be ready to fight ‘tooth and nail’ for their service, after National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) chair Roy Wilsher was appointed as a government advisor on the forthcoming reform to fire and rescue services in England, according to the Fire Brigades Union.
Wilsher, who served at the top of the government funded NFCC for four years, will now advise the Home Office ahead of a Government White Paper, which is due later this year. The proposals are expected to include a series of damaging attacks to the way fire and rescue services are run, with so-called ‘operational independence’ being granted to fire chiefs and firefighters facing attacks on their trade union rights, their role, and their pay.
In January, the NFCC, whilst under Wilsher’s leadership, worked closely with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), which produced a report calling for the dismantling of the ‘Grey Book’ containing established firefighter terms and conditions and for the restructuring or abolition of the body that negotiates pay. The report recommended that it be replaced with a pay review body, preventing firefighters from having a union to negotiate on their behalf.
FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said that Wilshire’s latest appointment as a government advisor will be seen a ‘harbinger of doom’ for the service and for frontline firefighters. “We know the government’s proposals for the fire and rescue service in England will not make pleasant reading and that the pay, conditions, jobs, and the very right of firefighters to have a union negotiate their pay will all be on the table,” he pointed out.