South Yorkshire fire chiefs’ strike pay debate looms

Some of the firefighters who have walked out on strike at the fire station in Eyre Street, Sheffield.

Some of the firefighters who have walked out on strike at the fire station in Eyre Street, Sheffield.

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Fire chiefs are to debate a call for an ‘urgent review’ of procedures after senior officers were paid tens of thousands in controversial strike overtime pay.

The meeting on Monday will be held after three officers agreed to repay the money received for working during a series of nationwide strikes.

An independent investigation found the payments were ‘lawful’ although they ‘lacked transparency.’

However the audit committee of the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority made a series of recommendations which will be discussed at the authority’s full meeting in Barnsley next Monday January 4.

The suggestions include that authority auditor KPMG undertakes ‘an urgent and thorough review of the authority’s decision-making process’, standard overtime claim forms, guidance for officers, various extra records and that the policy of making overtime payments to senior officers during strikes is void until debated.

The fire service said last week that ‘officers have agreed to pay the money back so that all parties are better able to work constructively together to meet the significant transformational challenges the service faces in the future.’

Chief fire officer Jamie Courtney, his deputy John Roberts and finance director Beverley Sandy have agreed to repay overtime received.

It is not yet clear whether former deputy chief Mark Shaw will repay his overtime.

At the same meeting, fire chiefs will also discuss plans to reduce the number of fire control operators in South Yorkshire. A trade dispute has been lodged and the Fire Brigades Union gave the authority until January 6 to withdraw plans before a ballot for industrial action. was taken.

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