Socialist Worker

Firefighters' mood is hotting up

Issue No. 2169

Firefighters across the country are engaged in a series of disputes that reflect a rising mood of anger at cutbacks in the service.

In London, the FBU union has accused the London fire authority of bully-boy tactics after threats to cut pay.

Workers are taking part in a ban on voluntary activities such as overtime and are refusing to “act-up” for more senior staff.

London fire chief Ron Dobson wrote to all 300 crew managers last week telling them their pay would be cut if they refused to act-up. But this is voluntary and there is no contractual obligation to do it.

Industrial action began on 13 August over attempts to cut pay and allowances contrary to agreements. Those who refused to move away from nationally agreed terms and conditions were threatened with demotion.

Meanwhile Warwickshire fire service is planning to close one in four of its stations and axe a third of fire appliances.

The union said this would lead to the loss of 100 retained firefighters.

Mark Rattray, the FBU’s Warwickshire brigade secretary, said that this would “greatly increase the risk to the public and to firefighters.

“The FBU will vehemently oppose any downgrading or reduction of frontline services.”

FBU members are currently in dispute with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) over cuts which will lead to job losses among one in ten of their members.

The union has warned that the management’s decision to push through the cuts will “inevitably” inflame the dispute.

A recent ballot called for industrial action “short of a strike” in response to the ECFRS’s refusal to negotiate over the new policies.

Adrian Clarke, FBU regional secretary, said, “This is a highly provocative move and we will face pressure from Essex fire crews to escalate the industrial action.”

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Tue 15 Sep 2009, 19:34 BST
Issue No. 2169
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