Firefighters’ jobs safe from cuts until at least March 2015

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The three-year dispute between the FBU and Essex fire chiefs has come to an end, with firefighters voting to accept a deal that keeps their jobs safe for at least another two years.

FBU members were determined to protect frontline jobs from cuts, but years of negotiations achieved nothing until they announced five days’ strike action this summer. After the first day, managers agreed to get round the table and now a deal has been signed.

FBU executive member Keith Handscomb said: “This has been the longest-running dispute in fire service history. Negotiators from both sides deserve credit for overcoming deeply held differences to negotiate the compromise terms needed to settle the dispute and to lay the foundations for rebuilding industrial relations.

“The challenges ahead are huge as the fire and rescue service faces the most severe cuts ever in central government funding.

“The union and frontline firefighters in Essex continue to hold serious concerns over the reduction of the wholetime fire crews at Canvey Island and Brentwood and as a consequence the speed and weight of 999 response to emergencies. But, the negotiated settlement includes written assurances from the chief fire officer to maintain the overall numbers of wholetime firefighters across Essex up to March 2015 and beyond, subject to central government funding being no worse than already projected.

“The settlement also includes new terms and allowances underpinned by agreements on a detailed framework for improving industrial relations going forward. It’s early days but, bit by bit, relations are starting to get better and so it is now up to both sides to take this opportunity to work together in facing the considerable challenges that lie ahead.”


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