Bungling boss stokes strike flames over non-existent ballot


Firefighters in Essex have accused bosses of stoking the flames of confrontation after wrongly saying the FBU is balloting for strike action.

Essex Fire and Rescue service chief fire officer David Johnson told local media of his frustration at the union’s decision to ballot – even though no such decision has been taken.

FBU officials had in fact been making behind-the-scenes approaches to national fire service conciliators and to ACAS about the potential for talks to avoid the need for a ballot. The union believes Johnson’s comments were a bunging attempt to scupper talks and provoke a strike.

FBU brigade secretary Mick Rogers said: “There has been hard work put in behind the scenes to try and resolve our current dispute and avoid the need for a ballot over continued frontline cuts and impositions. We’ve had highly sensitive talks around the possibility of using appropriate conciliators to try and broker a deal to resolve the issues between us.

“The FBU has not made any final decision to ballot and contrary to the chief officer’s statement, the FBU General Secretary, Matt Wrack, has not confirmed to anyone the outcome of a final decision that has not yet been taken. We and others have been working very hard behind the scenes to reach agreement on a way forward using the agreed processes we are all signed up to.

“Once again, Mr Johnson’s approach seems to be sending very clear signals that he is not serious about reaching agreement and remains hell-bent on confrontation. His comments are provoking fire crews across Essex and they are increasingly demanding a further ballot for industrial action although no final decision has yet been made.

“The intervention and its timing appear to us to be a bungling attempt to scupper talks and provoke strike action. They are unwelcome and unhelpful.

“Essex fire crews have been very patient, but their patience is running out. Senior union officials will spend the rest of today focusing on finding a way forward before final decisions are taken. “

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