Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

July 18, 2012 09:55 ET

Essex Fire Crews Announce Further Industrial Action Over Frontline 999 Cuts

'999-Calls-Only' Action and Short Periods of Strike Aimed at Highlighting the Serious Concerns of Frontline Professionals Whilst Avoiding and Limiting Disruption During the Olympics

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - July 18, 2012) - FBU General Secretary, Matt Wrack has given lawful notice of industrial action by Essex fire crews in the long-running dispute over frontline cuts and other imposed changes.

The action announced includes '999-calls-only' action on the dates of the London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. This avoids any disruption to 999 services during the ceremonies as all Essex frontline fire crews will remain available to respond to all emergency 999 calls. Service managers have threatened to stop the pay of fire crews for any "partial performance" of duties, ie refuse to pay crews even when they are not on strike.

In addition, four short, 3-hour periods of strike will add up to only half a day's lawful period of strike (12 hours) spread over July and August. However, senior managers appear intent on dramatically extending the effect of the strikes by deliberately stopping the pay of Essex fire crews for the whole of any shift disrupted by the short periods of lawful strike and not requiring them to work for any of the shift.

This could mean senior managers denying the public of Essex their normal professional fire service for up to 111 hours - more than 5 days - instead of the half a day's worth of short lawful strikes called. Managers have said the plan is to starve fire crews into submission.

A hardship fund has been set up to support the striking fire crews and their families during the dispute.

Matt Wrack said today:

"The fire authority has shown no sign of compromise and has left us no choice other than to call additional action in our campaign against cuts to the frontline fire and rescue service in Essex and other imposed changes. Not a single one of the frontline cuts or imposed changes have been put on hold, modified or reversed. However, we continue to be very measured in the action we have called despite the intense provocation, the disciplinary threats and the financial punishment being levelled against Essex firefighters for daring to stand up for their profession and their service.

"The action we announce today is measured. The periods of action are deliberately short and sharp to limit the risks to public and firefighter safety whilst highlighting the campaign against huge cuts being made to frontline 999 services that will leave the people of Essex at increased risk 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"Public support for our campaign has been tremendous. If fire chiefs decide to turn 999-calls-only action and short strikes into extended periods without emergency crews available, then the public will know it is the senior managers and politicians who are willing to put their lives and businesses at unnecessary risk and not the frontline professionals who stand ready to risk their lives on a daily basis to save others.

"In the circumstances, I make no apology for the selfless determination and courage of Essex firefighters to take industrial action, lose pay and face punishment for defending the frontline 999 service in Essex.

"I urge the fire authority, and in particular the elected leaders of the fire authority, to change tack and engage meaningfully in talks aimed at negotiating a settlement to this dispute."

'The industrial action announced includes:

26th July 2012 14.00 - 17.00 and 19.00 - 22.00 - strike action.
27th July 2012 18.00 - 28th July 2012 09.00 - carrying out no duties other than responding to 999 calls only
11th August 2012 14.30 - 17.30 and 21.00 - 24.00 - strike action
12th August 2012 09.00 - 13th August 2012 06.00 - carrying out no duties other than responding to 999 calls only
5th September 2012 09.00 - 13.00 - strike action
18th October 2012 11.00 - 16:00 - strike action'

Contact Information

  • Keith Handscomb
    07730 435633

    Adrian Clarke
    07917 017713

    Francis Beckett
    020 8349 9194 or 07813 001372