Essex tax-payers are set to foot the bill for strike-busting bribes in fire chief’s increasingly desperate bid to silence opposition to frontline cuts.
Essex Fire Authority today cleared the way for fire chiefs to offer “enhanced pay” to firefighters prepared to sign a no- strike deal in return for extra pay. Fire chiefs are “soliciting expressions of interest” from firefighters, control staff and officers.
Adrian Clarke, FBU regional secretary said:
“This latest move is the surest sign yet Essex fire chiefs are planning even bigger cuts in vital 999 services. And now they seem to be gearing up to copy London’s fire chiefs who first wasted tax-payers money on preparing a strike-breaking force and then provoked a strike by issuing notices threatening to sack all 5,500 firefighters in London.”
44 specialist rescue crews were amongst 80 frontline firefighter jobs cut in Essex in the last 2 years and fire chiefs have spent recent weeks talking up the scale of the cuts to come.
Essex fire crews have ignored every provocation from fire chiefs over the 14 month dispute and have not once taken any industrial action other than refusing to volunteer to cover staffing shortages or work overtime. This despite gagging orders, threats, the chief fire officer’s surprise refusal to sign the agreed settlement document. A sustained propaganda campaign has been waged on FBU negotiators by the chief fire officer’s media team.
“We’ve repeatedly called for a grown up, tripartite dialogue with elected councilors and senior managers to try and resolve this dispute but still our calls are falling on deaf ears. Now we know why.”