Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

July 14, 2009 03:00 ET

Fire Brigades Union: Essex Fire Crews and Fire Service Begin Series of Meetings

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - July 14, 2009) - Essex Fire Brigades Union and fire service managers started talks at 8am this morning, part of a series of meetings the union hopes will resolve their dispute. Fire crews are currently being balloted on industrial action short of a strike over cuts and other changes.

The Fire Brigades Union asked for negotiations and have set aside the rest of the week for talks and longer if necessary. The union had asked for negotiations last week and has never walked away from talks as it has been accused.

Today's meeting was arranged following a letter from the union to Richard Hopper, Director Workforce Development, sent on 9 July which read:

"As you know, the FBU are keen to progress negotiations throughout the many weeks of the statutory notice and ballot period. However, the FBU have not received a response from the Service regarding the four dates we suggested last week for us to continue our discussions.

We now formally request the Service meets with us to commence negotiations aimed at resolving the trade dispute that exists between the fire authority and the FBU. We make ourselves available for the whole week starting Monday 13th July and ending Friday 17th July and suggest that given the detail, range and seriousness of the issues involved that both sides make full use of this week-long opportunity.

We set no pre-conditions and ask the Service to reciprocate. Similarly, we would welcome whomsoever the Service may choose to represent the fire authority at the meeting and in return we expect that the Service will not again seek to exclude any of our elected FBU Officials to represent our members."

Paul Adams Essex FBU Brigade Secretary, said: "I'm glad we've started negotiations during the ballot rather than wasting the time waiting for the yes vote. The union has set aside the rest of this week for the talks to continue and longer if necessary.

"Our aim is to reach a mutually acceptable agreement as soon as possible, we have never rejected positive change. We have proposed a joint review to look at changes across all areas of the service - made by agreement, not simply imposed.

"We are happy to sit down with Essex fire and rescue service and look at where genuine savings can be made that protect the frontline service as the priority. There are plenty of alternatives to targeting cuts at frontline fire crews.

"We have rising hopes of reaching agreement. This is the start of some of the hard work needed to reach a settlement that has the support of the professionals that deliver the service and we intend to press on with negotiations over the days and weeks ahead."

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.

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

Contact Information

  • Media contacts:
    As the usual media contacts are
    in talks, please see below.
    Fire Brigades Union
    Adrian Clarke
    07917 017713