Cardiff hits back at ‘minimum service levels’ in fire service

March 20, 2024 - 439 views

The Fire Brigades Union has welcomed Welsh Government opposition to Westminster’s new minimum service levels regulations for the fire and rescue service. 

In a letter to fire minister Chris Philp, Hannah Blythyn, Welsh Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, has condemned the Act as an “unworkable intrusion into devolved matters”, describing the legislation as “fundamentally flawed, damaging and counter-productive”. 

Under the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act, fire service employers will be given the power to issue ‘work notices’ during a period of strike action. Recently published regulations state that these work notices will be able to dictate that 73% of appliances should be crewed on a strike day, while control rooms will be expected to operate as if it was a non-strike day.  

However, these will regulations only apply in England. Blythyn’s letter states that the Welsh government will “not be contributing to a fundamentally flawed, damaging and counter productive" piece of legislation. The Scottish government has also stated that it will not propose regulations to make the Act operable, and the legislation does not apply at all to Northern Ireland.  

The Fire Brigades Union wrote last week to all fire service employers in England calling on them to publicly commit to refuse to issue work notices against named employees. 

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary said:  
“The Fire Brigades Union welcomes the Welsh Government’s opposition to the Conservatives' authoritarian new minimum service levels for the fire service.

“Westminster is attempting to impose a strike ban for firefighters, control staff and other fire service employees. This is an attack on basic democratic rights. The FBU looks forwards to a Labour government at Westminster repealing this draconian legislation within 100 days.  

“The Welsh Government has sent a clear message to the fire minister by refusing to co-operate. These unworkable regulations can and must be resisted by fire service employers, who have the power to refuse to issue work notices.”