More strike action planned for firefighters

The Fire brigades Union has announced details of more industrial action because of the dispute over pensions.

Twenty-four hour industrial action is due to take place on Thursday June 12 from 9am until 9am hours on Friday June 13, and further action will take place on Saturday June 21 from 10am hours until 5pm.

In addition to strike action, the FBU has advised members (excluding Control Room members) to refuse to undertake any voluntary overtime, non-contractual overtime or voluntary additional hours from 9am on Friday 13 June until 10am on Saturday 21 June and then again from 5pm on Saturday 21 June until 9am on Sunday 22 June.

Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “In the case of industrial action, the Fire Authority and I have a legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service as far as is reasonably practicable.

“As with all fire and rescue services, military support and the green goddesses are no longer an option to us in carrying out our duty to protect the public.

“The Service has plans in place to offer a limited response service during industrial action. These plans have been in place for a number of years and we have put them into action during the industrial action by the FBU in relation to the pensions dispute.

“They are based on a reduced number of appliances, strategically placed across Tyne and Wear according to risk and the ability to maintain the best speed of response. As ever, our appliances are available to attend incidents across the whole of Tyne and Wear and their attendance at incidents will be prioritised according to the risk to life and property.

“Trained fire service officers and staff we have recruited and trained will drive and staff a number of our appliances. This includes staff the Service has temporarily recruited who were successful during our last recruitment campaign process but for whom there were no vacancies at the time. It also includes former military and specialist personnel.

“This plan is not designed to replicate the excellent service our firefighters provide every day of the week; however it is designed to provide a core operational service in the event of industrial action. We hope that talks between the two parties will continue and that the industrial action can still be avoided.

“We would like to ask the public to take extra care with fire safety during the periods of strike action and to ensure they have working smoke alarms on each level of their property and that they check them. We want to ensure residents have an escape plan and that everyone in the house knows what to do in the event of a fire.

“We would encourage businesses and organisations to ensure their fire risk assessment is up to date and that their staff know what to do in the event of a fire at work. We are working with partner organisations to help promote fire safety to residents, especially amongst people who are more vulnerable to having a fire.”

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “The minister has decided to bury his head in the sand, but he must accept that firefighters simply will not give up fighting for their futures — and our fire and rescue service.

“Concerns over these unworkable proposals remain as valid and grave as ever, and the government has ignored all the evidence including it’s own reports.

“It is as ever a difficult decision for us to take, but the only way for us to resolve this unnecessary and costly dispute is for the government to start listening to reason.”