Firefighters in South Yorkshire are voting on a deal reached in talks between bosses and the FBU union.
The proposal would see firefighters lose their 9-hour day shifts, working 11 hours instead, but this would be “guaranteed” for five years.
It is not as bad as the 12 hours the fire authority bosses wanted—but it’s not far off.
Firefighters believe such long day shifts could put safety at risk.
The fire authority has reissued letters threatening to sack firefighters if they don’t accept the new shifts, in a bid to pile on pressure for a yes vote on the deal.
One firefighter told Socialist Worker, “It has all dragged on so long now. Hardly anyone wants to vote yes to this but people want it to be over.”
Another firefighter said, “The deal isn’t perfect but we have got to meet somewhere.”
The deal is not a defeat—the bosses have been given a run for their money and haven’t got what they wanted.
And it was only the pressure from the seven days of strike action last year that got the bosses anywhere near the negotiating table.
But much more can be won. Industrial action is the only language the fire authority understands. And they have shown their “guarantees” can’t be trusted.
The ballot on the deal ends on Thursday 4 March. South Yorkshire firefighters should vote no—and demand the union organises hard-hitting strike action.