South Yorkshire fire authority is threatening to sack 744 of its firefighters at the end of the year if they do not accept changes to their contracts, according to the FBU union.
The threat came in a fax from Steve Swarbrick, the deputy chief fire officer on 30 June.
Union leader Matt Wrack said the fire authority was using “the worst kind of bullyboy tactics from the worst kind of employer”.
The Labour-controlled authority is proposing shift changes that would mean firefighters working four consecutive 12 hour shifts.
Firefighers are warning that the shift changes will damage family life and cause problems with childcare, especially during weekends, public holidays and school holidays.
The current 9 hour shift allows firefighters to juggle childcare arrangements.
Firefighters voted three to one in favour of industrial action short of a strike in opposition to the changes.
The threat of mass sacking – effectively a lockout of all firefighters – is a serious escalation by the authority that needs to be matched by the union.
Essex fire crews are to press ahead with a ballot for industrial action short of a strike after the fire authority failed to shelve plans to cut front line fire crews.
Essex authority wants to implement a rolling programme of cuts to the 999 service.