By Annette Mackin and Steve Collins
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Essex firefighters and control staff hit back at bosses’ attacks with strikes

This article is over 6 years, 4 months old
Issue 2468
Essex control staff picket at Kelvedon on Monday
Essex control staff picket at Kelvedon on Monday (Pic: Jon Woollard)

Firefighters and control room staff in Essex struck together as part of a rolling programme of strikes on Monday of this week.

They are fighting cuts to the fire service and unworkable shift patterns.

Monday’s walkout lasted from 9am to 6pm. The strike followed joint walkouts by firefighters and control staff on Wednesday and Friday of last week.

Fire Brigades’ Union Essex brigade secretary Alan Chinn-Shaw said the action is hitting bosses hard.

“We’ve had loads of public support, which has been great,” he told Socialist Worker. “It’s been going really well, and is having a financial impact on the service.”

A control striker said, “We have received outstanding support from our firefighters who have expressed solidarity at the picket line and who themselves face savage cuts.”

Firefighters are facing planned cuts to the fire service which could see a quarter of frontline jobs slashed.

Bosses are trying to reshape the fire service with the misleading argument that nationally fire deaths have declined, and fires in dwellings are at a low.

But this is not the case for some county brigades. In Essex fire deaths have not gone down, and dwelling fires have increased.

“Their proposals are irrelevant for the people who call on us,” said Alan.

Over the past decade the number of full time firefighters in Essex has dropped 17.5 percent.

Essex emergency 999 control operators are striking against cuts and imposed unworkable shift patterns.

One said, “Many of us have had to change from full time employment to job share in order to balance out family commitments with work due to management changes in our shift patterns.”

Workers’ stress levels have increased since bosses imposed a new computer system in January. It was taken out of action in May because it didn’t work properly.

They have been forced to use an old mobilising system which is incompatible with new IT systems, and there is no sign of a new system being fit for purpose soon.

The striker said, “Staff are working very hard to keep the service going.”

Control operators struck last Saturday and Sunday and plan further walkouts on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week from 9am to 6pm, when they will be joined by firefighters again.

Further strikes have been called for Friday of this week and Tuesday of next week from between 9am and 6pm.

Send messages of support on Twitter @EssexFBU or email [email protected]

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