Successful strike action by FBU members in Essex forces employers to ACAS

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Fire chiefs in Essex have agreed to go to ACAS after yesterday’s eight-hour strike over frontline cuts.

For three years managers refused to talk to the conciliation service, saying the cuts would imposed regardless – a decision the FBU said completely undermined the process.

But yesterday’s solid strike action, taken by around 1,000 firefighters and supported by members of the public, appears to have changed bosses’ mind.

FBU brigade chair Alan Chinn-Shaw said: “There has been solid support for this strike and the public have been fantastic in their support. Retained crews made a point of setting up picket lines although there was no need to be in attendance at their stations at all.

“The blockages put in the way of getting the key fire service national negotiators involved in attempts to resolve this dispute have now been lifted. Their involvement has been vetoed by the chief officer for nearly three years.

“Exploratory talks called by ACAS will now take place next week. This is an important step in the right direction and we are disappointed it has taken a ballot and strike to achieve that.

“This strike is about cuts and imposed changes. Essex fire service has the funds, these cuts and changes are not necessary.”

Retained crews were at their stations to set up picket lines to show their support. Retained firefighters work ‘on call’ and would not normally be at the station unless they were being turned out to a 999 call. The union says today has demonstrated massive service-wide discontent at frontline cuts and imposed changes.

All parties have now accepted an ACAS invitation to attend exploratory talks next week. The FBU planned further strikes on July 7th and 19th, August 18th and October 18th.

The number of frontline full time firefighters has been slashed by 100 since 2008, a loss of one in eight. The number of retained ‘on call’ firefighters has dropped by 60 since 2008, a loss of one in ten.

Further planned cuts would bring total losses of frontline fire crews to one in five since 2008.


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