Friday, March 24, 2023

Fire Service: Industrial Action Next Week

FIREFIGHTERS across Essex are to resume industrial action as part of a long-running dispute.

The Essex Fire Brigades Union has informed Essex County Fire and Rescue Service that the action – which will include a ban on overtime and a refusal to cover other staffing shortages – will start next Monday.

Essex’s Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said the action is “pointless” as he could not sign any agreement so close to the Government’s spending review.

The union said the “acrimonious” dispute began in 2009 over the axing of 44 firefighters and a decision to downgrade the way specialist emergency appliances are crewed.

Industrial action started in August last year and was suspended in April as negotiations took place, but a settlement could not be reached.

“We cannot sign an agreement so close to the spending review,” said Mr Johnson.

“The industrial action is pointless and they don’t need to do it – they could have signed the agreement two months ago.

“The world has changed a lot since the dispute started.

“We don’t have hours and hours of time to keep union officials in business – my primary objective is to provide a fire service for the people of Essex.”

The service has already forked out hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on union representation for firefighters, which it is obliged to provide.

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU Secretary said: “In good faith, throughout the summer fire crews have tried to cover the shortages on the frontline caused by the cuts while we have been negotiating a compromise settlement.

“That good faith has been thrown back in their face.”

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