Firefighters have rejected a pay offer that would have led to them responding to “slips, trips and falls”, a union has claimed.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said its Scottish members would have had to take on “significant areas of health and social care work”, including an increased responsibility for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest which “could have seen firefighters co-responding to life-threatening injuries”.
On Friday, FBU said 60% from an 81% turnout voted against the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s offer following a recommendation from the union’s executive council and Scottish regional committee.
Denise Christie, FBU Scotland secretary, said: “The consensus is clear; we want and deserve a pay increase, but the offer in its current form is unacceptable.
“We’ve been consistent throughout negotiations. Real progress has been made since the last offer was rejected, but some serious changes are needed to make this acceptable to our members.”
Firefighters and control staff previously rejected a deal last summer following concerns over how the proposed changes would impact on core responsibilities and training.
The FBU has now written to the chief officer and minister for community safety Ash Denham to inform them of the ballot result and to assure them that members want to continue negotiations.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, added: “In negotiations, we were concerned that this offer would not be acceptable to our members in Scotland – and this clear result serves as proof.
“Firefighters are emergency responders but are no substitute for social care staff. This offer was a step too far in that direction.
“We continue to be entirely open to discussions about securing a fire and rescue service fit for the challenges of the future.
“This is not the time to walk away from negotiations. We need to find a deal that is fair for firefighters and control staff to secure a long-overdue pay increase.”
Martin Blunden, chief Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have spoken with the Fire Brigades Union, and while it is regrettable that we have been unable to reach an agreement, we respect the outcome of the ballot.
“We have been in a unique position in Scotland, having secured funding from our government, to bring forward a 17 per cent pay offer to broaden the role of Scottish firefighters.
“As this offer has been rejected there will be no further Scotland-only pay offer as there is now no additional funding and we will re-join the UK wide National Joint Council negotiations on firefighter pay.
“However we remain absolutely committed to protecting Scotland’s communities from harm and identifying ways to meet new and emerging risks.”