FBU Press Release June 21st 2012

Essex fire crews have set five periods of strike action in a dispute over frontline cuts and changes imposed without agreement. The fire authority has refused joint talks proposed by the FBU while the chief officer says he can’t reach a deal in key areas without fire authority approval. The Fire Brigades Union says that Essex will have lost one in five frontline firefighters since 2008 if the current round of planned cuts go ahead. Response times to house fires are now taking longer and specialist rescue equipment is not as readily available.

The strike dates set: Commencing 28th June 2012 at 10:00 Hrs until 28th June 2012 at 18:00 Hrs Commencing 7th July 2012 at 04:00 Hrs until 7th July 2012 at 05:00 Hrs Commencing 18th July 2012 at 09:00 Hrs until 19th July 2012 at 09:00 Hrs Commencing 18th August 2012 at 17:00 Hrs until 18th August 2012 at 19:00 Hrs Commencing 18th October 2012 at 11:00 Hrs until 18th October 2012 at 16:00 Hrs

Alan Chinn-Shaw, Essex FBU Chair, said: “This is about cuts to frontline firefighters and changes imposed on firefighters. We’ve had enough and the cuts are now directly impacting on public and firefighter safety. “The cuts and impositions continue while the fire authority says it wants talks. That simply undermines the talks before they start. “The recent highly provocative removal of key fire engines and vital rescue equipment contradicts the fire authority claim that it is being reasonable. This two-faced approach has gone on for three years and enough is enough. “The issues are about cuts and imposed and unjustified changes and these need to be addressed. The fire authority must either address the concerns or there will be strike action. “Essex firefighters do not want to take strike action and want this dispute resolved. In response we’ve had schoolboy insults and a refusal to seriously address the issues in dispute. “We’ve tried every avenue to try to broker an agreement or get talks with all the key parties involved. The fire authority responds with prevarication. “This week, an attempt at setting up inclusive talks to try and break the logjam was thrown back in our faces. We need people in the room with the authority and skills to make the deal and that has not been happening. “All the while the cuts and the impositions continue. On top of which firefighters have had to endure aggressive management tactics and the provocative removal of vital rescue equipment which contradicts the conciliatory rhetoric of the service. “We have been very reluctant to set strike dates in the hope the fire authority will see some sense. Strike dates have now been set, but there is time to make progress and reach an agreement and we hope the fire authority takes that opportunity.” Essex fire crews voted two to one in favour of strike action, but delayed setting strike dates. There has now been nearly three years of action short of a strike in opposition to cuts and other imposed changes.

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