Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

September 13, 2010 07:58 ET

Essex Fire Dispute: Industrial Action to Resume as Fire Chiefs Back Away From Agreement

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Sept. 13, 2010) - Today (13th Sept) the Fire Brigades Union issued lawful notice of the resumption of industrial action short of strike over cuts in frontline 999 services in Essex. The action will commence at 9am on Monday 20th September and include an overtime ban and a refusal to cover other staffing shortages.

The long-running and acrimonious dispute began in 2009 over the axing of 44 firefighters from frontline fire stations spreading fire crews more thinly across Essex. The dispute also involves the controversial decision to downgrade the way specialist emergency rescue tenders and aerial (high reach) appliances are crewed. The numbers of firefighters at Colchester, Chelmsford and Harlow stations have been cut leaving only enough firefighters to crew three of the four appliances at these fire stations even when they are all needed in 999 emergencies.

Fire crews throughout Essex commenced industrial action short of strike on 26th August 2009. Eight months later, on 30th April 2010, the industrial action was temporarily suspended - in good faith - as talks were progressing and a negotiated settlement seemed imminent. On 13th July it was thought an agreement had been reached between negotiators but the settlement document had to be signed by the Chief Fire Officer at a meeting arranged for 21st July. And that's when it all started to go wrong.

At the last minute and without prior negotiation, the Chief Fire Officer unilaterally inserted an amendment to the settlement document negotiated and scuppered all prospects of an agreement.

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU Secretary:

"Ever since the chief's unhelpful intervention we have been trying to resume negotiations. But all our efforts have been met with obstruction, delaying tactics and lame excuses. Now the Chief has informed us that he won't sign up to settle the dispute over his last set of frontline cuts until he has drawn up his plans for the next round of cuts."

"Quite frankly, our members are livid. In good faith, throughout the summer fire crews have tried to cover the shortages on the frontline caused by the cuts whilst we have been negotiating a compromise settlement. That good faith has been thrown back in their face."

"We had a deal to end the dispute and now the fire authority have backed away from it. A seven day window exists before the lawful industrial action resumes and our negotiators are ready and willing to use that time should the fire authority be willing to reciprocate."

Contact Information

  • Fire Brigades Union
    Keith Flynn
    07956 - 469111
    Fire Brigades Union
    Mark Kinsalla
    07967 - 720363
    Fire Brigades Union
    Mick Rogers
    07967 - 023709
    Fire Brigades Union
    Adrian Clarke
    07917 - 017713