Firefighters industrial action over new contracts

HAVERING’S firefighters have joined crews from across London in taking industrial action over plans to change their shifts and contracts.

Crews from Romford, Hornchurch, Wennington and Harold Hill fire stations started their campaign of industrial action short of a strike on Friday September 24.

Hornchurch firefighter and Regional Secretary for the London Fire Brigade’s Union Joe Macveigh said: “Its unfortunate that we are going to have to take these steps but the fire brigade are threatening us with the sack so there is no reason that we should help them.

“The message is clear if they lift the threat of dismissal then we will lift the action, its not rocket science.”

The campaign means that the firefighters will refuse an overtime ban, a refusal to undertake higher duties and a withdrawal from various voluntary projects and initiatives.

In Havering the crews will attend fire jobs as normal but will not do any prearranged overtime including the Life Project and Junior Fire Setters program, which teaches youngsters about the roles of firefighters.

Spokesman for the London Fire Brigade’s Union, Francis Beckett said: “We feel that we have been forced into this situation because we were negotiating well on a regular basis but the fire brigade are taking on some heavy handed tactics which have left us no other option.”

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The campaign is over plans by the London Fire Brigade to dismiss all the firefighters over their refusal to take on new shift patterns.

The proposals would see crews working 11 hour day shifts and 13 hour nights, as opposed to the current patterns which are two days, two nights and four days off.

Crews are also being balloted over strike action until 2pm on Thursday October 14.

Joe said: “We are hoping that it does not come to a strike but we might not have any other options because we will not be bullied or intimidated by these clumsy tactics or the professional attempts to sack us.

“We are made out of stronger stuff than they think.”

The chairman of the Fire Authority, which runs the London Fire Brigade Union, Councillor Brian Coleman has called for conciliation rather than strike.

He said: “From Friday 24 September firefighters are being asked to vote for a strike, on top of planned ‘work to rule’ action. I expect changes to the way the fire and rescue service is run to generate debate, but there is no need for firefighters to lose money by taking strike action that will not resolve this dispute.”