Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

August 20, 2010 13:14 ET

Threat to Dismiss All London Firefighters Triggers Ballot on Industrial Action

LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Aug. 20, 2010) - Following the announcement that the London Fire Brigade has started the process of sacking all London firefighters, the Fire Brigades Union is to ballot London's 6,000 firefighters on whether they wish to take industrial action short of a strike.

The LFB and the FBU have been negotiating proposed changes in shift patterns, and both sides had demonstrated willingness to compromise. The FBU had hoped and expected an agreement, until Commissioner Ron Dobson announced that, if he did not get what he wanted within three months, he would "terminate their existing contracts." This meant sacking all firefighters, and only re-engaging those who signed up to Mr Dobson's requirements.

The Fire Brigades Union asked that the threat be withdrawn by 5 pm today (Friday 20 August), failing which it would ballot its members on industrial action short of a strike.

"Ron Dobson's bombshell successfully torpedoed the negotiations" says FBU general secretary Matt Wrack. "His threat has not been withdrawn, and we are left with no option but to ballot London's firefighters on industrial action.

"Firefighters hate taking industrial action, and will only do so as a last resort. Their ethos is one of public service. But there is a limit to how much bullying they will tolerate, and the London Fire Service has overstepped that limit."

The FBU's senior official in London, Ian Leahair, says: "No one in the FBU wants this conflict. I do not believe Ron Dobson really wants it, either – he cannot really want to do this sort of damage to the London Fire Service. I think his hand was forced by his political master, Brian Coleman, the combative Conservative chair of the London Fire Authority, who has been itching for a scrap with London's firefighters for a long time."

Ballot papers will go out on 27 August, to be returned by 17 September. If members approve the action, it may begin on 24 September.

Mr Wrack and Mr Leahair are available for interview.

Contact Information

  • For further information or to arrange interview,
    contact: Fire Brigades Union
    Francis Beckett
    020 8349 9194 or 07813 001372