Fire Brigades Union members in Suffolk are taking strike action each morning until Wednesday of next week in an escalation of their battle against job cuts.
Suffolk is on the frontline of a national fight against fire authorities drawing up cuts packages under the guise of “modernisation”.
“Members are sticking together well throughout the action,” says Vince Jell, chair of Suffolk FBU.
“We’ve got public support and we are getting backing from the union across the rest of the country. This is a battle about defending the service to the public and 12 jobs.
“More than anything else, it’s important there is resistance rather than cuts just going through on the nod.”
Suffolk firefighters will from next week be addressing FBU meetings in other brigades and are keen to spread that message of resistance.
Their action comes as government minister Jim Fitzpatrick has been forced to admit that plans to replace 46 local emergency call centres with regional control rooms are leading to spiralling costs.
The price will definitely go above £1 billion and could reach twice that figure.
The FBU points to warnings in New Labour’s own business case for regional controls that there is a “high risk” that spiralling costs will lead to pressure to cut frontline services and could push up council tax.
There is also a“high risk” of “total project failure” because of the government’s appalling record in technology projects.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack says, “It was incompetent of the government to sign up to plans before they knew the horrendous costs involved. It is irresponsible of them to fail to accept they made a mistake and think again. Two billion pounds is more than the £1.7 billion annual budget of the entire fire service.
“We now face the very real risk of cuts to frontline fire services to pay for the rising costs of this project.”
Rush messages of support and donations to Suffolk Hardship Fund Lloyds Bank Sort code 30-94-55. Account Number 4418949. Cheques should be made payable to the Suffolk Hardship Fund, and sent to fund co-ordinator Kevin Block, 17 Kirby Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 4PZ.