Socialist Worker

Striking Essex firefighters locked out by bosses

by Steve Collins
Issue No. 2436

Fire picket at Basildon

Fire picket at Basildon (Pic: Alan Kenny)

Striking firefighters and control staff in Essex have been locked out by fire bosses.

Workers began three days of strikes on Wednesday with the total amount of action taken to be 29 hours.

But now bosses are attempting to undermine the walkouts by locking the strikers out for full three days without pay.

One firefighter told Socialist Worker, “This is a blatant attempt to undermine the action and their claims regarding health and safety is bollocks.

“They hope that the lock out will mean we won’t picket stations and that the public will remain unaware that there is a strike taking place.

“But with little or no local coverage the picket is the only way to raise public awareness.”

Fire bosses plan to axe at least 179 jobs—a 25 percent cut in fulltime firefighters. Numbers have already been slashed from 750 to 656 since 2010.

Seven control jobs went in Essex this week and others have been forced to go through interviews.

And all catering jobs have gone at Chelmsford station – some had worked there for 30 years.

Another Essex firefighter said, “The budgetary savings of laying off staff will be minimal.

“It seems to me a purely vindictive attempt by management to wear us down and has a detrimental affect on firefighters’ morale.”

But striking firefighters remain defiant.

“The lock out has only strengthened our resolve to strike and picket the stations,” one told Socialist Worker.

Rush messages of support to and on Twitter at @EssexFBU

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