§ Mr. George Rodgers
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance the Government have given 2W to the Employers' Side of the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Fire Brigades about the fire service pay claim.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
The Government have informed the Employers' Side that they expect to see any pay settlement for the Fire Service with effect from 7th November 1977 negotiated within the limits of the Government's guidelines on pay.
The Government recognise that there is a long-standing claim for a reduction in the 48-hour working week of the Fire Service and would now be prepared for a reduction in working hours to be negotiated. The reduction could not be implemented before the autumn of 1978, although preparations could begin before then. Detailed arrangements on costs and other aspects of the reduction would be matters for negotiation.
The Government recognise the need to establish a formula for determining Fire Service pay. The Government welcome the fact that the National Joint Council is seeking through established negotiating procedures to achieve this. The Government are following closely discussion on this subject in the NJC, but the phasing of any further pay increase will have to be considered in the light of circumstances prevailing at the time.
I understand that on 3rd November 1977 the Employers' Side of the National Joint Council made an offer of 10 per cent. in earnings as from 7th November 1977 and agreed to continue negotiations about a reduction in working hours and establishing a formula for determining Fire Service pay.