Socialist Worker

Merseyside firefighters allege management bullying

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2026

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) on Merseyside has raised allegations of bullying by management in the wake of the union’s month-long strike over cuts and victimisation.

FBU brigade secretary Les Skarrats said the union views the management intimidation incidents “as a matter that not only needs resolving immediately, but also eradicating immediately.

“What the FBU is trying to ascertain is the level of corporate backing this strategy has.” The firefighters struck for 26 days in the face of a concerted management attempt to break the union.

The strength of the action has successfully fought off this threat to the FBU and won significant concessions - including a industrial relations review.

However, the fire authority’s plans to introduce “low level of risk and activity” (LLAR) shift patterns at stations across Merseyside will still go ahead.

It will take more than piecemeal regional action to head off a nationwide attempt to “modernise” the fire service on neoliberal lines.

These dangers were underlined when Hertfordshire fire authority closed down Radlett fire station without warning, which was at the centre of a strike against cuts by Herts FBU earlier this year.

Meanwhile other disputes are brewing within the FBU nationally over “long service increments” - pay bonuses awarded to firefighters with 15 years or more in the service.

Under the terms of the settlement of the 2003-4 national pay dispute, long service increments are to be phased out. Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, has threatened strike action over the issue if it is not resolved.

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Sat 11 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2026
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