Socialist Worker

West Midlands fire service cuts threaten safety

Issue No. 1970

West Midlands firefighters have agreed to press for a ballot on industrial action over changes to their working practices.

More than 40 members of the Fire Brigade Union met in Handsworth recently to discuss measures which could include a strike.

Tony Nutting, the union’s regional secretary, said management had refused to meet three recommendations agreed by the FBU’s technical advisory panel.

These were a shift allowance for firefighters finishing at midnight or beyond, travel expenses for working at other stations, and ensuring the shift pattern does not affect their holiday entitlement.

Tony Nutting said, “Since management brought in a new shift system it has caused no end of problems, but now it’s collapsing around their ears. There have been several occasions when we’ve had 20 or more pumps off the roads because of staffing.

“Firefighters are often in the ‘wrong’ place because they’re having to cover shifts at other stations.

“It’s not right that engines from Warwickshire and Staffordshire brigades should be helping us cover incidents but that’s exactly what’s happening.

“This isn’t just compromising public safety, it’s compromising the safety of our crews.”

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Sat 1 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1970
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