Essex firefighters begin three-day strike tomorrow


- Credit: Archant

Firefighters in Essex begin a three-day strike tomorrow in a dispute over working patterns and job cuts.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out from 9am tomorrow until 6pm on Friday.

Union officials had only planned to strike on part of each of the days, but the Essex Fire Authority has decided to look out those picketing for the entirety of their shifts, in order to bring in its resilience plans.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) is also launching its new control room a day earlier than planned to coincide with the start of the strike.

Riccardo La Torre, brigade chairman of the Essex FBU, said the dispute revolved around proposals to cut up to 200 firefighters, beginning with changes to control room shifts which begin this week.

He said: “We need assurances they will take on board issues about five cover for the public – it is the tax payers who miss out.

“Figures show about three people a day are rescued on average, and they will compare this to 10 years ago. But the reality is that’s still three people who can’t afford any cuts, they need the exact same level of response.

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“It seems like an extreme reduction of night-time cover, but at night a quick response is more important than ever.

“They say they won’t cut fire engines so the public will still see anengine behind a red door at a fire station, but what they won’t know is there’s no firefighters there to drive them.”

Acting Chief Officer Adam Eckley said: “Managers have put their best efforts into supporting the principles of the consultation and negotiation framework, but we have to deliver the best solution for ECFRS and the communities of Essex.

“Three points of the dispute ask the service to agree they will not make changes without the agreement of the FBU, when no change has been decided. When we reach the point of having firm intentions and proposals to share, all of our staff will be consulted and that includes representative bodies.

“In relation to control the new ways of working were introduced after exhaustive consultation and engagement with those involved, and were delivered within the terms and conditions covering our uniformed staff and without any need for compulsory redundancy.”