Socialist Worker

Battle hots up in the FBU

Issue No. 2163

Essex firefighters in the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have voted overwhelmingly for action short of a strike in opposition to cuts in frontline crews.

The vote comes in response to plans by fire authorities to slash one in ten frontline firefighters.

Some 80 percent voted for action in the ballot, which closed on Friday of last week.

Essex firefighters are opposed to a rolling programme of cuts to the frontline 999 emergency response service implemented by the county’s Fire and Rescue Service.

The cuts will mean fewer firefighters spread more thinly across Essex, leaving too few firefighters on duty to crew

all the fire engines.

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU brigade chair, said, “We are withholding calling action at this stage to allow the fire authority the chance to take a second look at their plans and discuss alternatives with us.

“This will give the fire authority time to reflect and for negotiations to take place.”

But he warned that if there was no progress in talks with management the union would take industrial action.

The warning came after three fires and a serious car accident last Saturday stretched the fire service beyond its limits.

The attack on Essex crews is part of a countrywide assault on firefighters.

Lincolnshire county council has threatened to sack 112 firefighters and will only re-employ those who agree to work a new shift system.

Agenda

Chris Hides, Lincolnshire FBU brigade chair, said, “The hidden agenda is to cut the number of firefighters at six stations and redeploy 16 frontline watch manager posts.”

Hides warns that the new shift patterns and cut in posts “will be a risk to firefighter safety”.

The threat against Essex fire crews comes on the heels of a similar move by South Yorkshire authorities who have threatened to sack the entire workforce by the end of the year if they do not accept new draconian work conditions and 12 hour shift patterns.

The FBU reports that London Fire Brigade is recruiting scabs for a strike-breaking operation. The FBU in London has called for a ballot for action short of strike.

The FBU has called a national rally in Barnsley on Monday 28 September, and lobby of Parliament on Wednesday

21 October, at Westminster Central Hall

Activists in fire stations need to build the biggest yes vote in the ballot, and the biggest possible demonstration while arguing for strike action.


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Article information

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Tue 4 Aug 2009, 19:27 BST
Issue No. 2163
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