Socialist Worker

Firefighters set to strike in South Yorkshire

Issue No. 2173

The FBU firefighters’ union has announced two 24-hour strikes in South Yorkshire.

The first strike will begin at 6pm on Monday of next week and the second will start on 6pm on Friday of the same week.

The strikes are a response to bosses’ plans to impose devastating cuts on the service.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, which is desperate to cut some £4.25 million from the service, wants only one fire engine to cover emergencies at night.

It plans to impose 12-hour shifts to replace the current nine-hour shifts.

The FBU says the proposals would leave night time cover dangerously understaffed.

Bosses are threatening to sack all 744 firefighters if they refuse to accept the changes.

Firefighters would have their contracts terminated on New Year’s Day and new contracts would include the revised terms and conditions.

The decision to strike follows a breakdown in talks between the FBU and bosses on Monday, after the fire authority refused to withdraw the dismissal notices.

Ian Murray, regional secretary of the FBU, said, “The fire authority is hellbent on confrontation. They have refused to withdraw the redundancy notice involving 744 firefighters and have turned down our request of national mediation.

“Changing the shifts is the key to them cutting firefighters and fire appliances at night time when the most dangerous fires occur.

“They have left us with no choice. You don’t threaten to dismiss 744 firefighters and not expect a strong response, including strike action.”

The decision to name strike dates is significant. If bosses get away with cuts it will have national implications.

But fire bosses in other areas are also trying to do the same thing.

FBU leaders should call a recall conference that could declare a national dispute and strengthen the fightback.

London firefighters have declared a “decent victory” in their seven week dispute over changes to their work conditions.

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Tue 13 Oct 2009, 18:11 BST
Issue No. 2173
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