FBU members take action to protect jobs and response times

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Essex fire crews have voted two to one in favour of strike action in a dispute over frontline cuts.

Current plans by Essex Fire Authority would see the loss of one in five frontline crews in the county since 2008, with the public already waiting longer for fire crews to turn up to fires in the home.

The strike ballot result will be considered by representatives from fire stations and workplaces across Essex and the fire authority will be given notice of strike dates by the general secretary in due course. The Fire Brigades Union said there was still time to resolve the dispute before any strike action takes place.

Prior to the ballot the union was told that all issues in dispute would continue to be implemented and cuts imposed regardless of any talks with ACAS or national fire service conciliators. The union believed this undermined moves to resolve the dispute.

Mick Rogers FBU brigade secretary said: “Essex fire crews have shown the strength of opposition to frontline cuts and changes being forced through without their agreement. The result explodes the myth peddled to councillors that fire crews have no genuine concerns.

“This damaging myth has led the councillors to support disastrous plans to impose changes and press ahead with cuts. There is a window of opportunity to negotiate and reach an agreement acceptable to both sides in this dispute if councillors want that to happen.

“No-one in the fire service ever wants to take strike action and no one will be happy if we are forced to do so. It is crucial the fire authority now wakes up and joins with us in genuine moves to resolve this dispute.”

The number of frontline full time firefighters have been slashed by 100 since 2008, 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.In the same period of time, Essex Fire Service has increased back office staff by 7.5% – from 238 in 2008 to 256 today.


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