Cooks are axed in budget cuts at fire stations

COOKS at Wigan’s fire stations are to be axed as part of swingeing budget cuts.

More than 60 catering staff who work for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, including those in Wigan, Hindley, Atherton and Leigh fire stations, are losing their jobs.

However, kitchen workers at the brigade’s technical support workshops in Leigh look to have been saved.

The move is part of a package of cost-saving measures as the service faces a cut in funding of up to £23m over the next four years.

Peter Taylor, from the Fire Brigades’ Union, said: “It is disappointing that some of the lowest paid staff are taking the brunt of the cuts. Front-line fire crews are just as entitled to a decent meal as managers at headquarters.”

Fire authority chairman Paul Shannon said: “It is hard to justify catering in stations where there might be a watch of as few as five people.”

Out of 77 catering jobs, 63 will go. The 14 that remain will be those at the workshop in Leigh as well as the brigade’s Pendlebury headquarters and its training centre in Manchester. It will mean there will be no catering staff at any of the brigade’s 41 stations.

Fire chiefs said the decision to retain catering at those sites was justified because hundreds of staff were based there.

In total, 140 backroom jobs will go, including catering, fire control, administration, human resources and organisational development, and corporate support and communications. The brigade has already announced that 150 firefighter posts are to go. The plans are expected to be finalised by the Fire Authority on January 27.

A spokesman for GM Fire and Rescue Service said: “We’re working on an estimate of £23m savings over four years. We will work closely with unions to identify alterative ways to make savings and safeguard jobs.”