Saturday, July 13, 2024

Essex fire strike called off during Olympics

SERVICE managers have welcomed the FBU’s decision to call off the strike that threatened to disrupt the Olympic Mountain Bike event at Hadleigh Farm on August 11/12.

Now DCFO Eckley is urging them to bow to increasing public pressure and cancel a 24 hours strike, scheduled to co-incide with the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday (July 26/27).

If they can’t do that, he says, then accept a one-time compromise that will save face for the union, support crews financially and deliver public reassurance.

“We welcome any rethink on strike action,” said DCFO Eckley on Monday. “But if they are genuine about wanting to minimise disruption, then they will also call off the strike scheduled for July 26/27. I will be writing to FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack today urging him to do just that.

“This decision to cancel August 11/12 strike dates is about pressure from crews and pressure from the public, not to mention intervention on a national level politically as the tide turns against a trade union movement hellbent on disrupting national celebrations,” said DCFO Eckley.

“There is diminishing support for this strike in Essex – retained crews are incensed that they are to bear the brunt of the new campaign of strikes and wholetime firefighters have been trying to find out how this will impact their pay packets.”

Today, Service managers said they did not wish to penalise either retained or wholetime crews, so this is the compromise:

1) Call off the strike action for retained crews on July 26

2) Stage wholetime strikes for the last three hours of the day shift and the first three hours of the night shift and the Service will agree to stop pay only for the hours firefighters are on strike. Wholetime strike action would then run from 15:00-21:00 hrs.

“The offer made by the Service still allows the Union to stage six hours of wholetime strike action but by running it back to back, resilience arrangements would only have to be put in place for eight hours rather than the entire 24 hours,” said DCFO Eckley.

“That being the case, on this particular occasion, the Service will accept partial performance. That’s the deal and the union has until midday tomorrow to accept it. If we get no response, we will assume it is unacceptable and plan to have our resilience arrangements in place for the full 24 hours, which will hit people in the pocket for their whole shift.

“Service managers have no desire to place an unfair financial burden on ECFRS staff who choose to take strike action and it is for this reason we have put forward this compromise. It allows FBU members to exercise their lawful right to take strike action but limits the time alternative fire cover arrangements have to be put in place and the cost.”

In its latest press release, the FBU said it had ‘operationally sensitive information’ that prompted its decision. “We are a resilient fire service and our Olympics plans for the mountain biking event would have remained in place, strike or not,” said DCFO Eckley. “Dozens of our own staff have been working with partners over a long period of time to ensure public safety. We have proved we have a resilient fire service over the past strike periods and whatever they think they know, ECFRS can guarantee public safety whatever the outcome of talks this week.”

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