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The firefighters deserve our support

Yesterday, a political row broke out because London’s 5,600 firefighters announced they would escalate their strike action unless the London Fire Brigade withdrew letters sacking all of them. The union decided to call its London members out on strike from 10 am on November 5 to 9 am on November 7. Speaking on the Today programme, General Secretary, Matt Wrack criticised London fire brigade officials for “a return to Victorian mill-owner industrial relations.” Mr Wrack said he “completely understood” the public’s concern over impending strikes, but insisted action could be averted if fire bosses relented.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson described the FBU’s action as “a reckless and cynical walkout…and the public would not think that this is a responsible way of conducting industrial action.” Ed Miliband’s office added that firefighter strike on bonfire night would be “dangerous” and would not have the Opposition leader’s support. Matt Wrack countered that:

Strikes can be resolved, lift the sacking notices and there won’t be any industrial action whatsoever. We’ve never walked away from any negotiations, we’ve invited the fire service to negotiate time and time again, our officials will be ready between now and any time between the strike.”

By the end of the day,however, it appeared that talks would take place and are expected later today.

London firefighters two weeks ago voted by 3482 to 943 to take strike action unless London Fire Brigade Commissioner, Ron Dobson withdrew his letter of 11 August which began the legal process of sacking the capital’s 5557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters. The majority was 79% and the turnout was 79%.

London Fire Brigade’s sacking notices had been designed to pressurise firefighters into accepting new shift patterns which would have them working 12-hour day shifts and 12-hour night shifts.  The change from the present shift patterns of two nine hour day shifts and two fifteen hour night shifts a week could also pave the way for a reduction of night-time fire cover. In addition it would mean that firefighters with young families seldom get to see their children.

3 Comments

  1. vi__sa says:

    The reasons given by the firefighters are very lame I am afraid, and the public are right not to support them. Other departments have had this pattern and it has worked fine.
    And holding the public to ransom on a night like that is not going to get them extra support.

  2. rachicles says:

    The Firefighters very much have my support, and the public should be told the truth. The FBU, and the Firefighters, have been bullied into a corner whereby they have option other than to strike. They want to do a job, it is the dirty tactics of the Fire Authority that have led to this action, and it is they who I point the finger of blame at, they who are holding the FBU and the public to ransom.

  3. Tom says:

    Ther firefighters are right to resist the sacking threat with every means at their disposal. The proposed shift pattern does not seem too onerous, frankly and I doubt if they would receive much public support for striking against it. They may have to consider negotiating maximum return for accepting the new shifts.

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