Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Firemen protest outside Convent Place

Tension in the City Fire-Brigade - All call outs still being responded to

Members of the City Fire Brigade carried out an industrial stoppage and walk-out yesterday morning in pursuit of a claim for higher ambulance cover remuneration and improvements of the pension conditions payable to fire-fighters.

Off-duty uniformed personnel assembled outside Convent Place to show their dissatisfaction at the way in which the Gibraltar Government was handling the negotiations.

The maintenance of parity differentials between fire-fighters and fire control operators is another of the key points of the dispute.

Meanwhile a state of selective industrial action has been declared at the City Fire Brigade although fire-fighters have reassured the general public that “at present all call-outs, irrespective of their nature will be attended to.”

For its part, a spokesman for the official side has already rejected what is in effect a revised staff claim, and stated that they are not prepared to go beyond the offer they made to the TGWU/ACTS on December 21st 2004, which it is understood, is an improvement on existing conditions.

The spokesman further stated that if this offer was not accepted in a two week period — the deadline expires at the end of the month – Government will withdraw it altogether, and consider “terminating the involvement of fire-fighters in providing cover for the delivery of the ambulance service altogether.”

According to the CFB ACTS members in dispute, the problem lies in the upholding of the parity differential between fire-fighters and fire control operators since ambulance cover was introduced in March 2000, and it is alleged, this was subsequently broken down in favour of the latter since 2002.

A spokesman for CFB ACTS said they were concerned and unhappy with these developments. He declared:

“This alteration to the original agreement of 2000 is totally unacceptable, since it boosts the remuneration package of fire control operators beyond that of fire-fighters.”

As regards the Gibraltar Government statement, the CFB ACTS spokesman described it as “a threat” and said it went “against the principles of dialogue so strongly supported by this democratically elected government.” He further added that “after this statement, it is perfectly clear that all avenues of dialogue have been terminated.”

It is understood the Gibraltar Government had already “reluctantly” agreed to meet the original claim on the parity differentials, but that the staff side had found out that although the correct formula had been applied “the actual figures were inaccurate thus failing to revert differentials to that of March 2000,” said the CFB ACTS members.

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