Hartlepool MP’s anger over Cleveland Fire Brigade chiefs’ pay hike

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HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright has questioned whether it is morally right for fire brigade fat cats to get whopping pay rises while frontline firemen who risk their lives get just a one per cent rise.

As firefighters are set to strike this week in a row over pensions, the Mail can reveal that managers at Cleveland Fire brigade received pay rises of up to £12,000.

Five senior brigade officers received four and five figure pay rises between 2011 and 2013.

Mr Wright said senior management needs to question whether “morally and economically” pay rises should be awarded during these difficult financial times, while angry firefighters say it is “galling” bosses have seen their pay boosted.

It comes as they are set to take strike action in a pension row over plans to raise the retirement age for firefighters to 60.

Firefighters hadn’t received a pay rise since 2009 until this year when they received a one per cent pay rise.

Brigade chiefs say senior managers have not had a cost of living pay rise since 2009 and the salary rises come after a management restructure and job evaluation.

But Mr Wright said: “At a time of enormous financial pressure on public services all senior management teams need to look very carefully about whether they can morally and economically justify any pay increases.

“Especially in the fire service, where we are seeing big cuts to resources and when firefighters, who are risking their lives on a daily basis for our safety, are seeing real-term cuts in pay and conditions.”

The brigade’s statement of accounts for 2011-12 and 2012-13 reveal chief fire officer Ian Hayton has seen his salary rise from £145,587 in 2011-12 to £148,422 after the job evaluation and his total remuneration package last year was £159,543, a rise of around £4,000 in total.

The package includes a car allowance of £10,866.

Meanwhile, Karen Winter, the director of corporate services, saw her salary rise from £82,705 to £103,197 with her total remuneration package including pension contributions shooting up from £100,370 to £125,049.

Fire chiefs say the new salary is actually £95,000, a rise of more than £12,000, and that the figure of £103,197 includes back pay.

Phil Lancaster, director of community protection, saw his salary rise from £93,058 to £96,295, with his total remuneration package including pension contributions rising from £118,529 to £122,858. Again, the current salary figure includes back pay.

Ray Khaliq, director of technical services, saw his salary rise from £87,883 to £99,745 with his total remuneration package including pension contributions going from £112,141 to £127,043. The current salary figure includes back pay.

Gary Cawley, director of business development, saw his salary rise from £87,507 to £88,254 and his total remuneration package including pension contributions rose from £111,825 to £112,537. Again, the current salary figure includes back pay.

A source told the Mail: “The lads had not had a rise since 2009 until this year, but for some of the senior officers to be getting big pay rises is galling.

“There is a lot of anger and disappointment over the pension issue.

“A lot of the lads are being told they have to do extra years. It is like being in the last year of paying your mortgage to then be told that you have to pay another five years.

“Then within that extra five years they could end up getting injured and then have to retire through ill-health and miss out on some of their pension.”

Earlier this week the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) announced members will take part in industrial action for four hours – from noon to 4pm on Wednesday.

Union bosses say the current proposals would see firefighters who retire or are forced out of work at 55 losing about 50 per cent of their pensions.

Auxiliary firefighters have been receiving training over the last few weeks in all of the activities they will be required to do as they support professional firefighters who aren’t involved in the strike action.