ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - July 17, 2012) - Essex fire crews are set to start a 24-hour strike tomorrow starting Wednesday at 09.00 until 09.00 on Thursday morning. They accuse their managers of being wholly intransigent, dictatorial and hell-bent on confrontation. Delegations of firefighters from across the UK will be joining a march and rally in Chelmsford on Wednesday to show their support for the Essex fire crews fighting against the dangerous cuts in the frontline 999 service.
Current plans for cuts would see the loss of one in five frontline crews in Essex since 2008, with the public already waiting longer for fire crews to turn up to fires in the home and other 999 emergencies. Typically, a fire doubles in size every minute causing more damage and increasing the risks to the public and to fire crews. 100 full time firefighters 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 but the Chief Fire Officer, supported by fire authority chair Councillor Tony Hedley, have made clear that the frontline cuts and imposed changes already decided will still be pushed through. Councillor Hedley has also refused to join in any talks with the union aimed at resolving the dispute.
FBU Brigade Chair, 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 and Councillor 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 Essex fire authority has the money to spend on firefighters as it has underspent its frontline staffing budget by over £1.6 million. It is also building up huge cash reserves - over £12 million - which are much higher than necessary. Essex MP Eric Pickles has urged all councils to use their financial reserves to temper the impact of frontline cuts. So why won't they do that in Essex?"