Socialist Worker

Action to defend Hertfordshire firefighters' jobs

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2001

Firefighters in the FBU union in Hertfordshire are likely to start an eight-hour strike this Saturday. The strike will go ahead if, as expected, a new set of employer proposals over fire service cuts is rejected by members at a meeting later this week.

The firefighters were due to walk out for eight hours on Monday of this week, but this action was cancelled following the offer from employers and crisis talks over the weekend.

“We were in negotiations last week and the employers have put forward an alternative set of proposals,” Tony Smith, vice-chair of Herts FBU, told Socialist Worker on Monday.

“We agreed to take the time to consult fully with our members – we’re meeting on Thursday of this week.”

He added that the strike action on Saturday, starting from 2pm, will proceed as planned if the new offer is not accepted.

The long running dispute involves proposals by Herts fire authority to shut down two fire stations and downgrade others. Over 40 frontline firefighter posts will be lost under the cuts scheme, according to union officials.

The government has denied permission for Herts fire authority to use army personnel as emergency cover during any strike action.

The FBU in neighbouring London is seeking assurances that its members will not be deployed to cover for their striking colleagues.

Herts FBU is not publicly commenting on the latest proposals from the fire authority. But one firefighter who had seen the offer told Socialist Worker that it had “no real substance, to my mind” and that the deal was likely to be rejected on Thursday.

The employers had tried to set an ultimatum to the union by threatening to take their proposals off the table if the FBU did not call off its action, this source added.


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News
Sat 20 May 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2001
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