Employee Relations Essay

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The UK Fire-fighter’s Dispute 2002-03 In this essay I will be analysing the UK fire-fighters dispute 2002-03. I will be discussing the main issues of the dispute that led to the strikes, factors that influenced it, whether the factors are still there and whether or not it has been resolved. To begin with I will briefly introduce why the dispute began. The UK fire-fighters dispute began when the UK fire-fighters union, the FBU voted to take strike action to secure a better salary. The FBU demanded a thirty-nine per cent increase in pay which would have brought the average fire-fighters wage to around thirty thousand pounds per year, it balloted its members for a strike in late 2002, and the industrial action began in November 2002. It was the first nationwide fire-fighters strike in the UK since the 1970’s. Leaders of the FBU believed pay in the service had fallen behind that in the rest of the economy. The union blames a wage formula that was established after its last major strike in 977-78 and links fire-fighters pay to that of the upper quarter of industrial workers. The dispute was about more than just pay it was about modernising the fire service and changing the way people work to reflect a modern society. Any pay increases would have to be linked to ‘modernisation’ meaning that much of the money would be conditional on reform of the fire service to bring in more flexible working practices. Public sector reform has become a major political battleground in recent years, in the UK it has been apart of New Labour’s domestic policy since 2001. The UK fire-fighters dispute is apart of this new public sector reform with an industrial clash over pay, taken over by the government and used to further its project of public sector ‘modernisation’ in opposition to organised labour. In the case of the fire service, this modernising agenda came up against an

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