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STUC 2011



UNISON wants time to consult on national fire service

John Stevenson
John Stevenson
The STUC backed and Fire Brigades Union motion supporting the amalgamation of fire and rescue services, while UNISON abstained on the issue until it could consult fully with its members in the service.

John Stevenson told Congress , "we cannot commit to supporting a national fire and rescue service without a full debate, discussion and consultation with our members who provide the vital infrastructure for this service.

"Their voice will also have to be listened to in this debate. It is for that reason that UNISON will be abstaining today but hoping to play a full part in the debate in the future".

While recognising that the FBU envisaged a system that would devolve power to stations with local decision making, John warned of the dangers of this being a template for other services moving away from local control and accountability.

"That is why we are thinking long and hard about the proposals for a national care service and whether the evidence would really support that this would provide a better service for people that gives them a real say in that service.

"That is why we are suspicious of reorganisations claiming to be better for people when they are really only financially based - with huge bits of that scarce funding being ploughed into the reorganisation itself instead of the services.

"We would be seriously concerned if this became a model for a national police force with all that would mean for civil liberties and the tradition of policing by consent", he added.

"And finally, we have concerns because of the very principles we fought for in creating and building our Scottish Parliament. - Subsidiarity: Services organised as close to the people as possible. - No 'sucking up' of locally controlled services into a central monolith - A real Parliament, not a glorified local authority taking over local functions."

A national fire service may be the best way forward, conceded John, and UNISON would have to pay heed to the views of the FBU. But that would have to be with the full involvement of UNISON members.

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