The future of the Hertfordshire firefighters’ dispute was in the balance as Socialist Worker went to press, with negotiators from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) still consulting with branches in the county over proposals from the employers.
Firefighters have been striking against plans by the Tory-controlled county council to close two part time stations at Radlett and Bovingdon and cut 50 frontline jobs.
They held three eight-hour strikes earlier this year, but a 48 hour strike was suspended at the last minute to consider the employers’ proposals.
These offer some concessions over cuts to full time firefighters’ posts, but insist on pressing ahead with the closure of Radlett and Bovingdon on 31 July.
Herts fire authority has already sent out redundancy notices to 23 retained (part time) firefighters at these two stations, as well as confiscating their engines.
The employers’ tactics have been to refuse to negotiate seriously and to try to weaken the union by driving a wedge between retained and full time firefighters.
If the deal is accepted, these tactics will have been effective. Other fire authorities across the country will seek to emulate Herts by driving through cuts packages of their own.
The FBU in Teesside started balloting its members last week for strike action against plans by the authority to downgrade a station and axe 66 frontline posts.