Fury as strike-breaking firefighters are paid 'thousands' in food and drink expenses (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Fury as strike-breaking firefighters are paid 'thousands' in food and drink expenses
5:32am Thursday 19th June 2014 in News
Strike-breaking firefighters were paid more than £4,000 in food and drink expenses, the furious Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has claimed.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is accused of paying £200 each to crews on 21 fire engines that were in service when FBU members walked out for 24 hours last week.
FBU secretary Dave Williams also claimed that new camp beds and bedding were bought for the strike-breakers to sleep on, despite every station already having sleeping provisions.
Mr Williams suggested fire chiefs were trying to create division, and added: "It is infuriating. Members are really up in arms about this."
He continued: "It has baffled me. Buying beds is crazy, buying sleeping bags is bonkers - why not ask them to provide duvets?"
Mr Williams also slammed bosses as "petty", and said: "It is getting the backs of the strikers up. We are losing money, yet these people are getting paid quite handsomely to come in and then also getting meals paid for.
"It is another tactic that our chiefs use to put up barriers."
On the food and drink expenses, Mr Williams said: "We know that every fire engine was given £200 and there are four people per fire engine - so that's £50 each to pay for food whilst at work.
"Normally a firefighter provides their own meals. For these people to receive a £200 comfort payment is just astronomical.
"There were 21 fire engines at the last strike, we suspect. If they are getting £200 each, it is £4,000.
"I could understand emergency feeding because we get that ourselves. But this is not an emergency. There are seven days notice of a strike and resilience crews will know they are expected to work 24 hours."
He added: "They were bought bedding and new camp-type beds to sleep on for a 24-hour period - that is a waste of money."
Assistant Chief Officer Dave Walton confirmed an allowance for meals and refreshments was paid, adding: "This is in recognition of the fact that, as we have only approximately half of our regular fleet available during periods of strike action, it is very difficult to guarantee the times and locations at which breaks will be taken.
"We therefore provide contingency crews with the ability to buy food where and when convenient to them."
He added: "In the latest 24-hour strike period, £200 was allocated per engine for food and drink, and expenditure was monitored by receipts. The actual amounts spent per fire engine was significantly less and the difference was returned to the brigade.
"With regards to the provision of sleeping facilities we did, of course, use the facilities that were already available on stations. A limited number of camp beds from stock were supplied to those crews who
provided essential fire cover from Retained Duty System fire stations, where beds are not provided as crews respond from their home addresses.
A very limited number of sleeping bags, from stock, were provided to staff who did not have their own, though it should be noted that the vast majority did have their own, and used them. We regularly provide bedding to all of our staff who work the whole time duty system."
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