FBU members to take industrial action in dispute over frontline cuts and staffing conditions

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Public (PSI), FBU, UK unions,

fbu bridge bannerFirefighters and 999 control staff in Essex are preparing to take two days’  industrial from Wednesday in a dispute over frontline cuts and staffing conditions.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) plan to cut at least 179 firefighters and control staff resulting in a 25% reduction in full time uniformed firefighters.

The plans will see the number of wholetime firefighters serving at frontline fire stations further reduced. Firefighter numbers have already been reduced in Essex from 750 to 656 since 2010.

The plans will also see a reduction of emergency control staff by 20% and detrimental changes to their working practices.

The industrial action will take the form of short period strikes and action short of strike.

FBU Essex brigade secretary Alan Chinn-Shaw said: “We are facing cuts of an unprecedented scale resulting in more than a quarter of all frontline firefighter jobs being cut.

“The public will have to wait longer for their local fire engines to arrive in the event of an emergency. It will be impossible to maintain the same safe and professional service we currently provide.

“The planned job losses, reduction in fire cover and attacks to our working conditions are unacceptable. We recognise the fire service is facing a reduced budget; however we believe there are alternatives to making such huge cuts to frontline 999-services.

“The service managers and the local politicians need to start listening to the professional firefighters who deliver our service.

“Essex fire chiefs have rejected all compromise solutions to avoid industrial action. This is our last option.”

Essex fire chiefs are currently employing approximately 608 firefighters in spite of the fact that the public are paying for 656 firefighters.

The latest cuts were announced shortly after Essex fire service admitted that they would have to raid its financial reserves to repay a £15m debt to the government because of an accounting error.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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