The Game’s Up!

Now that Mr OBE has left the building in humiliation, his erstwhile compatriots, rather than acknowledging, reflecting and learning from Duffy’s crushing defeat and the unambiguous message that the Scottish FBU members have overwhelmingly sent to all of them, are still remaining defiant, blaming everyone and anyone else for their ills and point blank refusing to accept any responsibility for their actions.

FBU members will have read with disgust the recent article in the Sunday Herald, where Roddy Robertson, the Executive Council member for Scotland, aired his dirty laundry in public and levied a personal attack on the General Secretary in an act of, what can only be described as totally reckless selfishness and self agranding narcissism, which has only led to his and his cohorts’ embarrassment and a re-affirmation that his time as a FBU Union leader is now surely coming to an end.

It was an act of desperation and self destruction, designed to damage the reputation of the Union and the General Secretary in particular, that cannot be tolerated or defended by any self respecting Union member or official.

He handed over internal emails to the press for the purpose of attacking the General Secretary and suggested that the Union was “embroiled in a civil war“. Such behaviour is indefensible and clearly counterproductive to the interests of the Union.

There is indeed a civil war going on, however not between Scotland and England, but between Scottish Union members and the Scottish leaders who have been pursuing their own personal and political agendas at the cost of their members’ jobs and conditions of service.

The General Secretary got involved because he had been inundated with complaint after complaint from Scottish members over the behaviour of the Scottish leaders.

So rather than “interfering“, the General Secretary rightly intervened, at the request of Scottish members, in order to try to get matters back on track in Scotland.

Ironically, the Sunday Herald article highlights one of the key issues where Robertson and his cohorts have been causing complete confusion and, quite frankly, spreading untruths and inaccuracies, whilst trying to cover their tracks by attacking and blaming the General Secretary.

Even now, Robertson is still perpetrating the same old nonsense regarding the pensions situation in Scotland and trying to mislead, not only his own members, but the general public.

He again inferred that the Union in Scotland had agreed a deal with the Scottish Government on Scottish firefighters’ pensions, which as Scottish FBU members are well aware, is simply not the case.

The Scottish Government’s proposals in September 2013 (which is all they were) still had a normal pension age of 60yrs old. Whilst firefighters could retire from 55yrs old, there would be huge penalties for doing so, with as much as 20% of a firefighters pension being lost.

Robertson also suggested that an agreement had been reached that would ensure that firefighters would not face dismissal and lose their pensions if they failed to pass the Service’s fitness test.

However, when the Scottish Government produced their draft Regulations last month, this key element was not included in it!

This provoked the General Secretary to write to the Scottish fire minister to demand an explanation and insist that their promise formed part of the Regulations.

Thus far, the Regulations have not been amended accordingly.

So, for nine months, Scottish FBU leaders did absolutely nothing to try to pursue the outstanding issues in the Trade Dispute with the Scottish Government, saying that the offer couldn’t be improved upon. They manufactured the most contrived ballot in the history of ballots in order to remove Scottish members from national strike action.

Then, all of a sudden in June, they announced that they were going to have “positive talks” with the Scottish fire minister and that it would be “inappropriate” to engage in industrial action whilst these talks were ongoing, which happened to be during the period of the Commonwealth Games.

After the decision was made not to call industrial action in Scotland, the Regulations were published, which fell way short of what was promised last September.

So, far from everything being rosey in Scotland, there is much to fight for.

However, the key consideration for Robertson and Duffy was never the members they represented, but the agreement they had with their political masters not to cause any trouble in the run up to the referendum on independence. 

They readily complied, however it didn’t stop Service management continuing on with their cuts agenda, which progressed without so much as a whimper from Robertson and Duffy.

Now that Duffy is gone and Robertson is now completely marginalised, it now falls on Thomson, with the support of the regional committee, to sort the whole mess out.

He has a mammoth task ahead of him. Fixing the years of damage caused by his predecesor won’t be easy nor will it be done overnight.

He will need time and support. However it is unlikely that he’ll get either from the other bitter regional officials and their minions.

We wish him well and good luck. He’ll need it.

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FBU Scottish Secretary Election – Stevie Thomson Wins a Landslide Victory! Humiliation for John Duffy OBE!

In what is an unprecedented overwhelming majority, Scottish FBU members have removed Mr John Duffy OBE from the post of Scottish Regional Secretary, in favour of his challenger, Stevie Thomson, by a margin of 4 to 1!

Thomson secured 1,014 votes compared to only 254 for Duffy, taking 80% of the votes!

Thomson’s landslide victory is a complete humiliation for Duffy. It is also the first time in living memory that a sitting regional secretary has been removed from office anywhere in the UK.

That humiliation also applies to the other Scottish FBU leaders, as they have worked hand in hand with Duffy, developing the same complicit policies and pursuing the same political agenda, which has resulted in huge cuts throughout Scotland, with more in the pipeline.

The Scottish FBU leaders, led by Duffy and Robertson, unilaterally campaigned for the eight fire and rescue services in Scotland to be merged into one single Scottish service, without any consultation with or without seeking the agreement of Scottish firefighters.

In less than 18 months, the single service has already seen the decision to close five fire control rooms, with the loss of about half of all control operator jobs. There has been the introduction of a new officers’ duty system, which has seen the loss of officer posts and huge increases to officers’ workloads.

In fact since April 2013, almost 200 uniformed posts have been lost in Scotland.

FBU members’ conditions of service have also been steadily eroded and all agreed to by the Scottish FBU leaders under their “partnership agreement” with senior Fire Service managers.

Firefighters are now facing current proposals from management, which the Scottish FBU leaders are complicit in, which would reduce crewing levels on fire appliances, with the loss of hundreds more frontline firefighter posts.

Scottish FBU members have now signalled, in the most dramatic of terms, that they have had enough.

The consequence of the Scottish FBU leaders’ collective actions has seen the Union in Scotland descend into turmoil with them being the most unpopular officials in the history of the Union in Scotland.

Now that Duffy has been removed from office, the positions of the other Scottish FBU leaders are now completely untenable.

They should all now do the decent thing and resign without any further delay!

Matt Wrack, the FBU General Secretary said on twitter – “Congratulations to Brother Stephen Thomson, today elected as new #FBU secretary in Scotland. Lots of struggles ahead. #SaveOurFireService

There is indeed a lot for Stevie Thomson to do, to get the Union in Scotland back on track as being an effective, campaigning organisation that puts its members first.

This election is just the first in a series of four back to back elections. The election for the post of Scottish treasurer will run shortly, a post that is currently vacant following the suspiciously sudden resignation of the previous post holder, Paul Wilson.

The election for the posts of Scottish chair and Scottish executive council member, currently held by Alan Paterson and Roddy Robertson respectfully, will then follow.

So, going by the overwhelming victory for Stevie Thomson over Duffy, if Paterson and Robertson don’t do the decent thing and resign, it looks like they’ll be next to be forcibly removed by Scottish FBU members anyway.

The winds of change are definitely now blowing, with gale-force proportions!

After today’s result, it looks like the days in office of the rest of the current leadership are numbered!

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Scottish FBU Leader Urges Scottish Firefighters to Do More, Unlimited Amounts of Work – for Nothing!

Mr Roddy Robertson, the (not so) illustrious FBU EC member for Scotland, has taken to facebook in the wee small hours, in an attempt to prosecute his argument for supporting the creation of a Scottish Allowance for firefighters.

His comments do not exactly make for surprising reading, given they are more akin to the type of comments you would expect to hear from management, so no change from him there then.

Interestingly, and probably by mistake, he has inadvertently admitted that a Scottish Allowance would mean that management would be able to instruct any firefighter to do anything they like, as their role maps would be effectively ripped up as a consequence of a Scottish Allowance that would include a paltry additional responsibility payment within it.

His basic premise is that as firefighters are going to less fires, they need to look at doing other work as well. He argues that a Scottish Allowance would allow this to happen.

Well, of course it would! Management would have a field day ordering firefighters to do anything and everything they wanted, with workloads going through the roof!

As we have discussed on this Blog previously, an additional responsibility payment is paid to firefighters who carry out work that is not contained within their role map (job description). However, a Scottish Allowance would not only dramatically reduce that sum of money to those who currently receive it, but would mean that ALL other firefighters would be legally required to carry out any and all additional work designated to them by management, whether it was in their role map or not, effectively ripping the role maps up.

Why would anyone want to agree to that?!

Pathetically Mr Robertson also lambasts comments on social media that challenge and contradict his own twisted logic, yet uses social media to do so! Oh, the irony!

The bottom line here is that Mr Robertson and his lackies are yet again trying to pull the wool over the eyes of their members by trying to sell them an allowance that will see their job descriptions ripped up and their workloads increase, all so they can look good with management, employers and the Scottish Government!

It is nonsensical when he suggests that as ARAs are currently a removable allowance, management could at any time take them from those firefighrers who currently receive them. If that was to happen, those firefighters would be perfectly within their rights to stop carrying out the additional duties that the particular ARA payment covered, so it is highly unlikely management would remove these ARA payments as they would lose a number of key, specialists functions.

It is therefore a bluff, and not a very good one at that, which merely exposes the fact that Mr Robertson is being less than candid with his own members (what’s new)!

There is another more obvious issue. This year, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service needs to save £12M from their budget. Does anyone honestly think that in those circumstances, management would be giving firefighters additional money and not expecting anything back in return?! Think about it!

Chief Fire Officers throughout the UK have wanted rid of the role maps since they were created. They see them as restrictive as they limit what duties they can instruct firefighters to do. CFOs want the flexibility to be able to tell firefighters to do anything and everything that management want.

A Scottish Allowance is a golden opportunity for management in Scotland to be able to do just that. It’s what they’ve always wanted and the Scottish FBU Leaders, true to form, are making the arguments for them.

To make matters worse, Mr Robertson and his minions are yet again insulting the intelligence of their own members by trying sell this allowance by saying that it will put firefighters on £30K.

The 1% national pay increase that is expected to be accepted next month will put firefighters pay (including the CPD payment) to just £250 short of £30K. So this tells us that the value of the ARA part of the Scottish Allowance will only be £250.

A 1% pay increase next year would see firefighters attain that additional £250 plus more, putting the annual salary to just over £30K.

So the choice for Scottish FBU members is clear.

1. Wait a year to be on £30K, with no fundamental change to your Conditions of Service, Contract of Employment or Job Description (Role Map), or

2. Accept a Scottish Allowance now (which is only worth an additional £250 per year to those who do not currently receive an ARA payment, and which constitutes a pay cut to those who currently do) and rip up your Role Map, selling your soul to management, for them to tell you to do anything they want, whenever they want!

As the old phrase goes – It’s a No Brainer!

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Another Day, Another Sell-Out!!

Panic has certainly set in amongst the John Duffy camp. They are so terrified that Mr OBE is going to lose the current election for the post of Scottish Regional secretary, that their levels of desperation have now reached a new low.

It was recently revealed that Mr Roddy Robertson, EC member for Scotland, has been having clandestine meetings with senior SFRS managers, to discuss fast tracking a deal to implement a Scottish Allowance – an allowance that would encapsulate all current allowances received by firefighters (ie, CPD, ARAs, Travel Allowance, etc).

He is trying to get an agreement reached, so that he can sell it to FBU members as a huge success and associate the deal with Mr OBE, in a pathetic attempt to try to bolster his chances of gaining more votes in the current election ballot.

However, there are a couple of problems with this.

First of all, the election ballot papers have already been issued to members’ home addresses. It is a well know fact that the majority of ballot papers in home address ballots, are returned within the first 5 to 7 days, so it’s a bit late for Mr OBE to try to ingratiate himself with FBU members now!

More importantly, they are trying to portray the Scottish Allowance as something that it certainly is not.

For a start, as some sort of incentive, they are saying that if members accept a Scottish Allowance, a firefighter will then be on £30k. That being the case, let’s break down a firefighter’s pay and see exactly how much a Scottish Allowance represents.

Current Annual Salary: £28,766
Current CPD: £682*
Total: £29,488

*This figure is different in different areas, so we have used the Srrathclyde figure as an example to make the point.

Of course, there is a national pay rise overdue. Even if we apply the minimum likely increase of 1%, this would increase the overall salary to £29,742.

So, once a pay increase is applied, a Scottish Allowance would only be worth £252.

There are many members who currently receive an ARA payment for carrying out specific duties beyond the terms of their Role Map (Contract of Employment). Some members receive two such payments.

For those members, the introduction of a Scottish Allowance would represent a PAY CUT!

The members who do not currently receive any ARA payment would indeed see their annual salary increased by £252, however there is a huge price to pay for this rather paltry sum.

The fact that a Scottish Allowance would include a payment to members for carrying out ‘non-specified’ additional responsibilities, it means that SFRS management would be able to instruct any member to carry out any task at any time.

Members would be legally obliged to do so, because management would be remunerating them for doing so, albeit a trivial amount.

So, in effect, a Scottish Allowance would rip up the Role Maps!

FBU members’ workloads have been and continue to be on the increase. The key protection that members have against having that workload dramatically increased further are the terms contained within their Role Map.

To remove those protections, would open the floodgates, seeing workloads explode… and all for £252!

FBU members would be wise to think extremely carefully about the serious consequences of accepting such an allowance.

In the midst of huge budget cuts, SFRS management are not going to increase salaries without getting something back for it! This is not money for nothing! There is a huge price to pay for accepting this Allowance!

FBU members must ask themselves if that price it worth £252!

Yet again, FBU members see the Scottish FBU officials trying to sell out more of their conditions of service!

Yet again, FBU members see the Scottish FBU officials trying to portray another detrimental change to them, as a success!

Yet again, FBU members see the Scottish FBU officials colluding with management, to the detriment of their members, for their own personal gain.

We understand that this issue will be put to FBU members in the form of a consultative ballot.

If such a ballot takes place – Vote NO!

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Filed under FBU Elections, FBU Scotland, Fire Service Issues

Make Sure Those Pesky FBU Members Don’t Spoil Our Commonwealth Games and Our Independence Referendum, Mr OBE!!

In yet another pathetic attempt to raise his own profile in the midst of a serious challenge against him in the current election for the post of Scottish Regional Secretary, Mr John Duffy OBE has been making some public and very questionable comments in the press and on social media this week.

It started on Sunday, in an article in the Sunday Post, in which he raised concerns regarding the possibility of firefighters in Scotland taking part in an overtime ban during the period of the Commonwealth Games!

He said “If negotiations go on then, unfortunately, we will get dragged into having another overtime ban”.

Dragged into?! Is this not the industrial action short of a strike that FBU members in Scotland voted for?!!

It gets worse. He goes on to say “We are hopeful that no action will be taken during that period as we all need to appreciate this is a significant, global event, but it is a possibility.”

Well, he wouldn’t want to upset his pals in the Scottish Government by supporting his own members taking legitimate and legal action in pursuit of a decent pension would he?!

He then says “It would be ironic if, because of an overtime ban, the agreement we’d reached for the Games meant we couldn’t keep the day-to-day appliances on the run.”.

Day to day appliances” would be off the run because of the continued loss of frontline firefighter posts that Mr OBE and his cronies have done nothing to stop!

These are the frontline jobs that Mr OBE said his pals in the Scottish Government promised wouldn’t be lost as a consequence of moving to a single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, however the reality has seen significant cuts with many more scheduled to come.

So, rather than Mr OBE talking down his own members’ fight to safeguard their pensions, he should be leading them!

It has become obvious that he and his cronies do not want to ‘rock the boat’ with the Scottish Government ahead of the Commonwealth Games and the Independence Referendum! Is this yet another conflict of interest?!

The Chief Officer, Alasdair Hay, then made a statement that is fundamentally and completely inaccurate. He said “The industrial action being taken by the Fire Brigades Union relates to an ongoing dispute between the FBU and the UK Government.”

Wrong!

The Trades Dispute was registered with the Scottish Government (as well as UK, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments), who have regulatory control over Scottish Firefighters’ pensions. The Scottish Government made an offer on 17th September 2013, which Scottish firefighters have not accepted but which remains on the table. They wouldn’t make an offer in a dispute that was nothing to do with them, would they?!

Therefore the dispute with the Scottish Government continues, meaning that any industrial action short of a strike taken by Scottish firefighters is not action that they are being “dragged into”, but action they have voted to take in pursuit of the demands contained within the registered Trade Dispute!

The only people being “dragged into” the dispute is Mr OBE and his cronies!!

On Monday (23rd June 2014) a tweet from the FBU Scotland twitter account read Meeting with Scottish firefighters pensions forum, John Duffy, reg sec making the case to improve Scottish position, Sean Starbuck also atnd

Wait a minute! Mr OBE and his cronies have been telling FBU members since last September that the Scottish Government’s offer (or “deal” as the Scottish FBU leaders prefer to refer to it as) can’t be improved upon in Scotland without further concessions from Westminster!

Given that there have been no such concessions, on what basis are they now pursuing “improvements”?!

They forced through a highly questionable ballot designed to ensure that Scottish firefighters were taken out of taking strike action which has continued to be taken by firefighters in England and Wales, on the basis that a “deal” had been struck in Scotland”!

They have been telling Scottish FBU members that there have been no discussions on pensions with the Scottish Government for the past 9 months because they are merely awaiting the outcome of negotiations with the UK Minister!

Now, all of a sudden, after 9 months, they are meeting the Scottish Government to “make the case to improve the Scottish position”!

Why have they not been doing this for the past 9 months and why now?!!

Could this sudden meeting with the Scottish Government on pensions be anything to do with the developments in Northern Ireland, where the Northern Irish Government last week offered a new pension scheme to firefighters there, which has a Normal Pension Age (NPA) of 55yrs old?!

In the process of making that decision it should be noted that they rejected a Scottish Government type proposal as “such proposals have not been costed”!

So Mr OBE is telling Scottish FBU members that he is now speaking with the Scottish Government, 9 months after doing absolutely nothing, to try to improve upon a Scottish “deal” that he has been saying since last year was the best Scottish firefighters were going to get!

The tweet on the FBU Scotland twitter account, which by the way is administered by Mr OBE himself, also infers that he was the main man in this meeting, with Sean Starbuck merely accompanying him as a bit player.

Wrong!

Sean Starbuck is the National Officer who has been leading on the pensions dispute along with the General Secretary throughout the whole of the UK, since the dispute began.

Let’s not forget that Mr OBE was excluded from negotiations last year by the General Secretary due to concerns over his overly friendly relations with senior SNP politicians, which many members have long considered to be a clear conflict of interest.

Now, in a quite pitiful, as well as cynical attempt to raise his own profile and level of importance, he has exaggerated his own role in the negotiations with the Scottish Government.

He must really be panicking about losing the election, to stoop to such desperate measures!

The key question in all of this relates to the “assurances” of the Scottish Government last September, when they stated that if an improved offer is made elsewhere in the UK, then they would at least match it.

So, now that the Northern Ireland Government has shown that an NPA of 55yrs old is possible within the financial restrictions imposed by Westminster, is the Scottish Government going to stand by their promise and offer it to Scottish firefighters?!

We await with bated breaths!

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FBU Executive Council Postpones Scottish District Elections

The ballotting of members in the elections currently being held in the Scottish Districts Nos 6 & 7 has been postponed by the FBU’s Executive Council and will now be re-run from the Union’s Head Office in London.

The decision has come after a multitude of complaints over the running of the elections by the Scottish FBU leaders were received by FBU Head Office from members and candidates alike.

The General Secretary had previously been tasked by the EC to look into the running of the Scottish elections due to the many concerns raised, and reported back his findings this week.

Consequently, the decision was made to postpone and take over the election.

We understand that the electoral services ‘Popularis’ will be used to send ballot papers to Union members’ home adresses. Members will then return their ballot paper directly to Popularis for them to conduct the official count.

Since the beginning of the District elections process, the running of the elections by the FBU Scottish leaders has been mired in controversy.

From intimidation of candidates to simple bare-faced cheating, and Head Office has had enough.

Now that the Scottish officials have finally been exposed and taken out of the process, Scottish FBU members can now have confidence that a proper and transparent election process will now be conducted from Head Office.

It also shows how far the Scottish FBU leaders’ reputation has sunk. Even the FBU EC and Head Office no longer trust them to conduct a basic election process. 

There is now the same low level of respect, trust and confidence amongst the national leaders as there is amongst Scottish members!

Oh how the (not so) mighty have fallen!

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FBU Spin Doctor Covers Up Jobs Sell-Out as Crewing Levels Victory!

Mr John Duffy OBE must be dizzy with all the spinning he’s doing!

In the past few weeks, Mr OBE has issued two press releases and a circular to members in Scotland, which is more than he has issued in the previous year!

You’d think he was standing in an election… oh wait, he is!!

His offerings, however, have been nothing short of disgraceful, as they compromise and mislead FBU members!

A few weeks ago, whilst the fire at the Glasgow School of Art was still burning, he issued a press release stating how well firefighters coped at the incident, even though the Service is in the midst of a package of frontline cuts!

So, Mr OBE tells the world that despite the ongoing cuts in the Service, firefighters can still cope with major incidents!

Brilliant argument for stopping the cuts John… NOT!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, in a press release issued today, he has called for a uniformed establishment level in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to be agreed, even though he has been explicitly arguing against it for the past three years!

According to him, an establishment level was not needed, as his pals in the Scottish Government had assured him that there would be no cuts to the frontline. However, one year into the new Scottish FRS, the frontline cuts are taking hold, with more to come, and all of a sudden the solution according to Mr OBE is to try to get an establishment level agreed!

A bit late! Doh!

The Police ensured that an establishment level was in place before the amalgamation of the eight Police forces, which has protected frontline uniformed post in Police Scotland, but at the time Mr OBE agreed with SFRS management and the Scottish Government, that an establishment level wasn’t needed for the Fire Service!

What an idiot!

To make matters worse, in his recent press release, Mr OBE has announced that an agreement has been reached with SFRS management to maintain a crewing level of 5 riders on each of the first and second appliances (5&5) across the Strathclyde area.

However, we can confirm that this is NOT the case!

The Scottish FBU leaders have already secretly signed an agreement with management to apply 5&4 crewing levels across Scotland, which would be a reduction of the current crewing levels in Strathclyde, with the loss of approximately 200 frontline uniformed posts!

So, what Mr OBE is doing is dressing up an agreement to cuts jobs by giving the impression that he has managed to safeguard them!

So how is he doing it?

Special appliances that currently have a dedicated crew will change to a dual crewed arrangement, meaning that technically 5 riders could be available on second appliances.

For example, if a station currently has 5 riders on the first appliance, 5 riders on the second appliance and 2 riders on the special appliance, there would be a total crewing level of 12 riders required.

If the special appliance was changed to dual crewing, meaning that the 2 riders are removed and riders from the second appliance would then crew the special appliance should it be mobilised, then only a total of 10 riders would be required – 2 less than before!

Across the five watches in a station, this would constitute a loss of 10 posts in a station! Multiply this with the number of other stations that have special appliances, then you have a loss of many many frontline uniformed posts.

So rather than being the saviour of frontline uniformed posts, Mr OBE is agreeing to many being lost, but painting the sell-out as a victory!

Disgraceful!

Alistair Campbell would be proud of such spin!

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Filed under FBU Scotland, Fire Service Issues, Single Scottish Service