Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

July 06, 2009 06:43 ET

Essex Fire Crews Commence Ballot for Industrial Action

ESSEX, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - July 6, 2009) - Essex fire crews are starting their ballot for industrial action short of a strike after the fire authority failed to shelve plans to cut firefighters. Fire crews also failed to get a commitment from managers to negotiate other changes rather than impose them.

The fire authority failed to respond to the union lodging a trade dispute setting out the items of concern. The union had given 10 days to respond, more than the 7 days notice of ballot required by law, but no response was made and no assurances were given.

Individual ballot papers will be posted out on 8 July to firefighters' home addresses. The secret ballot is being overseen by Popularis.

Paul Adams Essex FBU Brigade Secretary, said: "The fire authority has failed to shelve plans to cut one in ten frontline station-based firefighters. This is of great concern to fire crews because it will mean fewer firefighters spread more thinly across the County.

"We've proposed a joint review of the balance between office based activities and the 999 emergency response with a view to redeploying resources back to fire stations. This is about ensuring we can provide the sort of service the public expects without damaging public or firefighter safety.

"We are more than happy to sit down and look at where genuine savings can be made. There are alternatives to targeting cuts at frontline fire crews.

"No one in Essex wants to take any form of industrial action. We have urged the fire authority to stop imposing changes and to adopt a joint approach and reach agreement.

"A significant hurdle is that the fire authority will not even reconsider its decision to press ahead with cuts to frontline services. They also want to continue to impose a range of other changes without agreement which is a recipe for industrial action.

"Our aim is a mutually acceptable agreement. There is still time for constructive talks to resolve the issues and I would urge the authority to take that approach.

"Essex fire crews are determined to protect the service many of us have been in all our working lives. We have been strengthened in that resolve by the many messages of support from firefighters across the UK.

"Do not doubt our passion and commitment to what we do and the value we and the public place on what we do. And don't doubt that Essex fire crews and officers will defend the service we provide."

Essex Fire and Rescue Service is set to implement a rolling programme of cuts to the frontline 999 emergency response service. The result will be fewer firefighters spread more thinly across Essex, leaving too few firefighters on duty to crew all the fire engines.

The Fire Authority proposes to cut the number of firefighters by "managed vacancies" from 954 firefighters in December 2008, to an average of 940 during 2008/9, to 920 during 2009/10, to 905 in March 2010.

Forty four of those jobs - one in ten of the frontline fire station based crews -would go by changing the way higher reach aerial ladder platforms and rescue tenders are crewed. The impact would be there would not be enough firefighters to crew all appliances, even if they were needed in a 999 emergency.

The union has also objected to a number of other changes which it says local managers are trying to impose rather than negotiate.

Contact Information

  • Media contacts:
    Mick Rogers
    07967 023709
    Keith Flynn
    07956 459111
    Paul Adams
    07967 720363