Firefighters prepare for second strike action

FIREFIGHTERS preparing for their second walk out over cuts have accused managers of being “inflexible, dictatorial and hell-bent on confrontation”.

Crews are set to start a 24-hour strike tomorrow (Wednesday) starting at 9am. Delegations of firefighters from across the UK will be joining a march and rally in Chelmsford to show their support for fire crews fighting against the “dangerous” cuts in frontline 999 service.

FBU brigade chairman, Alan Chinn-Shaw said: “No one wants to go on strike, we have only done so in what is a third year of continuing cuts in frontline services and imposition. Enough is enough.

“Strike action is a last resort and we are calling only short periods of lawful strike to limit the risks to the public whilst highlighting the very serious concerns of frontline professionals. Left unchallenged, the frontline cuts would hit public and firefighter safety 24 hours every day, 365 days a year.

“The chief fire officer David Johnson and [fire authority chairman] Cllr Hedley have made clear from day one that the frontline cuts and imposed changes will still be pushed through regardless of professional concerns and regardless of any talks. That position leaves no room for compromise.”

The FBU argues that the Essex Fire Authority has money to spend on firefighters having underspent its frontline staffing budget by over 1.6million as well as building up over �12million in “unnecessary” cash reserves.

Current plans for cuts would see the loss of one in five frontline crews in Essex since 2008 - 100 full time and 60 retained firefighters have been cut from frontline Essex fire stations. The union has accepted an invitation from ACAS for a further exploratory meeting.