Fears over fire strike ahead of Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympics

FIRE chiefs in Essex are calling on union officials to abandon plans for strike action during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) is currently preparing to ballot its members on whether to take strike action in the next two weeks. It comes after a long-running dispute over cuts to front line staff and changes to working arrangements.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has warned that a yes vote will inevitably result in hundreds of firefighters walking out because it cannot meet union demands as they stand.

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said: “The union’s latest decision to ballot for strike is totally

reckless, ill-timed and politically motivated.

“The public is in no mood to support wayward renegades at a time when the entire country was gearing up to put economic gloom behind them for Olympic and Jubilee festivities.”

He said he also wants clarification on whether union members would strike in continuous action or through a series of one day walk-outs.

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“We need to understand from an organisational point of view because a strike would need significantly more resources over many weeks than it would for a series of day-long strikes.

“To hijack national celebrations is disappointing enough but then to hold the county to ransom by not being explicit with regard to strike plans should the FBU secure a majority shows total disregard for the people and businesses they claim to care so much about.”

But Assistant Secretary at Essex FBU Nick Mayes said until the ballot had taken place, no decision on when walk-outs would potentially take place had been made.

“The potential for a strike is always there,” he said. “People in the Fire Service never want to walk-out but we feel we have been pushed in to this and we don’t have any other option.

“We can’t say when we will strike because we haven’t even held the ballot yet but when we look at dates we always try to minimise risks to members of the public.”