FIREFIGHTERS and civilian colleagues in Staffordshire have been on the receiving end of pay cuts of up to 15 per cent - at the same time as the county’s chief fire officer has received a £7,000 bonus on his £144,000 salary, union leaders say.
A shake-up of shift systems and related extra payments by Staffordshire Fire Service has reduced the take-home pay of many frontline staff, according to Staffordshire Fire Brigades Union chairman Richard Williams.
He said staff had cooperated with the changes in order to safeguard their jobs - and were now “horrified” at the £7,300 bonus awarded to chief fire officer Peter Dartford.
“It feels like a kick in the teeth,” Mr Williams said.
“Fire service staff have worked with management on a whole series of changes to make the service more efficient and ensure jobs are safe for the future. But here we are now seeing the chief officer taking a substantial extra payment.
“We are told it is because he has raised the profile of the service - but if it wasn’t for the dedication of the workforce he wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Mr Williams said senior management and chief executive salaries across the public sector had risen significantly, while frontline staff had to put up with pay freezes.
“Mr Dartford is in an extremely well-paid job, with a generous pension, and I am sure the fire service can find a better use for this £7,000,” he said.
“I think he should consider giving it to a firefighters’ charity.”
The move has also been branded as “utterly deplorable” by FBU regional officer Andy Dennis .
Staffordshire fire authority members voted to give the service’s chief a £7,385 bonus at a meeting behind closed doors on Monday as a one-off “recognition payment” for his work in raising the profile of the service and maintaining safety standards.
Mr Dartford's salary of £144,873 a year is unchanged. He has not had a pay rise since 2008.
Fire authority chairman Len Bloomer said that during that time annual savings of around £400,000 had been made by cutting the senior management team.
The payment was discussed in a session closed to the public because it was “in relation to personal terms and conditions which are excluded from publication under the Local Government Act”.
But Stafford borough and county councillor Frank Chapman described the payment as “inappropriate and insensitive” .