27 October 2010 #Employment
Sometimes employers need to make changes to terms and conditions of employment for sound business reasons and unfortunately those reasons do not always meet the employees` expectations. Also, it can be difficult for employees to fully understand why certain decisions are being made as, by no fault of their own, they are unlikely to be party to all the relevant information and/or the financial pressures of the employer. Surely we have to assume that the London Fire Brigade have got sound business reasons for the changes they are trying to make to the fire fighters` shift patterns otherwise why would they go through all this turmoil and risk strike action. I am not sure that I wholly believe the overblown media comments which incite unhelpful emotional reactions by stating comments such as ‘aggressive Tory ... seems to take pleasure in sneering at firefighters`.
The actions that the LFB are taking follow a practiced legal process for changing terms and conditions when no agreement can be reached with the employees. It appears that both sides have been in negotiation with each other and have tried to agree the changes but that this process has failed to reach a successful conclusion. Therefore, the LFB have started the formal 90 day collective consultation process in order to further inform and consult over the proposed changes with the hope (I assume) that agreement can be reached. If no agreement is reached by the end of the 90 days the LFB are likely to dismiss all employees and then offer reengagement on the new terms and conditions. It is not a case, as I have read, of saying ‘Why negotiate when you can sack everyone and invite them back on new contracts` or ‘Do it our way or clear off!`.