Staff in South Yorkshire recruited for fire strike

John Roberts is South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue's new Assistant Chief Fire Officer
John Roberts is South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue's new Assistant Chief Fire Officer
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Fire chiefs in South Yorkshire are today advertising for contingency staff to cover the county in the event a national strike over proposed changes to pensions goes ahead.

The brigade is recruiting around 50 employees to help meet its legal duty to provide minimum standards of emergency response, in case the strike is agreed next week.

Operational staff, including those who have retired in the past two years, and support staff will also receive letters to establish whether they will work during any industrial action.

In a blog to his staff, Chief Fire Officer Jamie Courtney told them he ‘absolutely respected’ the right of employees to take action, but said the brigade needed to know how many firefighters would be available.

Assistant chief John Roberts added: “We probably will be looking to recruit in the region of around 50 contingency staff in total.

“Hopefully this won’t result in any form of action but, if it does, we’ve got a statutory and moral responsibility to provide a fire and rescue service for the public of South Yorkshire so it will be a limited service that we would have.

“It would deal primarily with road traffic collisions and fires.”

A decision on whether a strike will go ahead is expected next week.

The Fire Brigades Union has put a seven-point plan to the Government to resolve the situation.

Proposed changes include imposing a retirement age of 60 on firefighters.

Any potential strike could take place in July or August.

Mr Roberts said it was not yet known how much it would cost to recruit or pay contingency staff, as it depended on how long any strike lasted.

The adverts for staff say potential employees would be paid £10 an hour for training in basic fire fighting techniques, and up to £150 for each operational shift of up to 12 hours worked. Roles include those of driver and fire and rescue operatives.