Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

September 24, 2009 11:08 ET

South Yorkshire-Fire Crews Vote Five to One to Strike Against Mass Sackings of 744 Firefighters

SHEFFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 24, 2009) - South Yorkshire fire crews have voted five to one to strike against plans to sack 744 firefighters to force through new contracts requiring 12-hour day shifts from 1 January.

The Fire Brigades Union was notified of the mass sackings of all 744 firefighters by fax on 30 June. It accused the Labour controlled fire authority of bully boy tactics and trampling on the basic standards of decency the labour and trade union movement expected.

Number of votes cast: 683
Number answering 'yes' 565
Number answering 'no' 116
Number of spoiled voting paper 2

The turn out was also very high at 79%. An overtime ban is already in place in a dispute over efforts to force firefighters to work 12-hour day shifts, rather than the current nine-hour duties, under their current contracts. Firefighters say the change in working hours are a prelude to cutting emergency cover during the night, a step they believe threatens public safety. The proposed shifts would also would damage family life and make it impossible for many to arrange childcare provision.

The union has put forward new proposals in an attempt to resolve the dispute. It says a ten hour day shift would secure more savings and be less disruptive to the family life of firefighters.

Fire Brigades Union regional secretary Ian Murray said: "South Yorkshire firefighters and officers have sent a clear message they will not be bullied. If we gave in to these tactics our employment contracts, pay and conditions become worthless.

"The last thing firefighters want is to take industrial action. But we will not accept mass sackings as a way of forcing through changes to our contracts.

"Strike dates have not yet been set to allow some further opportunity to reach agreement. The fire authority needs to decide if they are serious about an agreement or if they want a strike."

FBU General secretary Matt Wrack said: "This a magnificent show of determination by our South Yorkshire members to stick together to defend their rights and to protect the fire service. The fire authority has tried bully boy tactics and they have backfired.

"They have trampled on the basic standards of decency the labour and trade union movement expects. This dispute can be settled by negotiation but the Fire Authority must immediately withdraw the threat of dismissal.

Contact Information

  • Regional and local media contacts:
    Ian Murray
    07967 103345
    Jeremy Pagan
    07977 931086