Essex: Dispute ends between fire chiefs and union
MEMBERS of the Fire Brigades Union have voted to end their four-year industrial action.
Firefighters have accepted a dispute resolution agreement, drawn up between Essex County Fire and Rescue Service management and union officials to bring the long-running dispute to an end.
Chief fire officer David Johnson said while both parties would acknowledge there remain differences, it was time to draw a line under the past and look forward.
“The Service will face significant financial challenges over the next couple of years and it is important for us all to focus our energies on the future and learn to work together once again to achieve the best possible outcome for Essex,” he said.
“The changes that have successfully been introduced over the last four years have put us in a good position. We have delivered change at Canvey, we will be using new crewing arrangements to introduce a retained crew into Brentwood and continue to look at innovative ways of working that will help us to maintain the availability of fire engines on the front line.
“We still have to face the financial realities of the final two years of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, so it is important for the service to work closely with all of its representative bodies to deliver those projects that secure the future of the service, its staff and the communities we need to keep safe,” he added.
“Prudent financial management has enabled us to offer all Essex firefighters job security come what may, and we have a Fire Authority mandate to maintain the same number of fire stations and fire appliances with the financial resources to support those guarantees. Nevertheless, there is still a need to drive all unnecessary costs out and use our resources in the most efficient and effective way while maintaining the current levels of fire cover.
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“Clearly having faced the acrimony of a four year dispute, it will take time to rebuild trust. But with mutual respect and co-operation, I am hopeful that we can look forward to a new era in terms of trade union relationships built on an understanding that there will continue to be differences and compromise will be needed on both sides.”