Socialist Worker

West Midlands fire fight

Issue No. 2606

Firefighters in the FBU union campaigning against cuts in 2015

Firefighters in the FBU union campaigning against cuts in 2015 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Firefighters in the West Midlands have voted overwhelmingly for strikes in a dispute over the imposition of contracts on new entrants into the service. A ballot showed a 90 percent vote for action on an 82 percent turnout.

Their Labour-led fire authority is trying to force through fundamental changes that could make their jobs far worse.

West Midlands Fire Service—overseen by councillors on the Labour-controlled West Midlands Fire Authority—has introduced contracts that could make new firefighters take on extra duties.

Firefighters on these new contracts could end up having to do work well outside their normal job roles. This would potentially take them away from front-line emergency work.

FBU West Midlands chair Andrew Scattergood said the contracts would create a “two-tier workforce”.

“If we don’t fight them now we’ll end up in a position where people on these new contracts will begin to outnumber people on the old contracts,” he said.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said, “The strike ballot is an overwhelming result. It shows the huge strength of feeling among firefighters and emergency control staff in the West Midlands. It is time to wipe the slate clean and bin these disgraceful contracts right now."


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