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Firemen (Working Hours)

Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure that the employing authorities meet the terms of the agreement reached in January 1978 with the firemen, including the reduction of hours to 42 in November 1978; and if he will take steps to ensure that the authorities are prevented from reducing fire cover or abrogating other agreements with the firemen as a means of apparently meeting their obligations under the January agreement.

Pay and conditions of service of firemen are matters for the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Fire Brigades. I understand that negotiations in the council on the employers' proposals for the introduction of the 42-hour week broke down on 14th June. Since then, there have been talks between both sides of the council and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service to find a way of bringing about a resumption of negotiations. Both sides have now agreed to accept a proposal made by ACAS that a third party should be appointed to submit, without commitment, a report for clarification, recording the position reached in the National Joint Council in relation to the introduction of a 42-hour week in the fire service.The Government remain committed to their desire to see put into effect the agreement reached in January. This was made clear to the House by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State in the Adjournment debate on 15th May. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further while the ACAS proposal is being pursued.