Socialist Worker

Threat to sack all London firefighters

Issue No. 2211

London firefighters are seething after their boss threatened to sack them all – on his blog.

Ron Dobson, London Fire Brigade commissioner, wrote a blog post last week saying plans for shift changes may “involve termination of employment”.

Regional FBU official Paul Embery said the threat was “an absolute outrage”.

The fight is over bosses’ plans to scrap firefighters’ existing nine-hour day shifts and 15-hour night shifts, and replace them with 12-hour days and nights.

Firefighters say these shifts would lead to dangerous cuts in night cover—and leave firefighters working hours that play havoc with childcare arrangements.

But the fire authority is set to tear up workers’ contracts using so-called “dismissal and re-engagement”.

The commissioner goes on to write that the process “can be avoided”. Paul adds, “He appears to be saying ‘give in to my demands, or I will sack the lot of you.’”

The union has said it will launch an immediate strike ballot if bosses try to impose the shift changes.

Yusuf Timms, an FBU borough secretary in London, told Socialist Worker, “The sackings are not an idle threat.

“London is the biggest brigade and everyone’s watching – the bosses want to land a big blow and open the door for a national attack.

“It’s urgent that we mobilise now for a very serious battle. We will need sustained strike action to win.”

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Tue 20 Jul 2010, 18:40 BST
Issue No. 2211
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