Peace plan bid to end fire strike

PUBLISHED: 11:23 01 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:42 12 May 2010

A peace plan could happen

A peace plan could happen

FIREFIGHTERS went on strike for the third time in two weeks yesterday (Wednesday) – but reduced the planned two-day strike to just eight hours. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) suspended the 48-hour strike in a bid to help negotiations. An FBU spokesman said

FIREFIGHTERS went on strike for the third time in two weeks yesterday (Wednesday) - but reduced the planned two-day strike to just eight hours.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) suspended the 48-hour strike in a bid to help negotiations.

An FBU spokesman said: "We're at a point now where we're back to square one.

"Striking does not sit well with any firefighters, but if we don't do it the public will be less safe forever.

"I'm a member of the community and I believe they deserve the best protection."

There are no planned strikes for the future, but the FBU spokesman said it was "likely" to happen again.

"We are waiting for a response before we plan our next action, but we would prefer not to have to withdraw our labour at any time," he said.

Talks are expected to continue this week with Herts County Council.

Meanwhile, Royston firefighters are supporting the strike action.

Under proposals accepted by the county council, there would be a reduction of firefighters at Royston, and a change in working patterns, which would see retained firefighters on call at weekends.

The FBU has given the county council a nine-point proposal plan which includes:

- The service would commit to five riders on all appliances, 75 per cent of the time.

- Fast-track service into the training centre for all retained members who wish to transfer from retained to whole-time in recognition of their proven professional status and proficiency.

- The ban on retained firefighters' extra working hours is immediately lifted.

- The proposed reductions in operational posts be withdrawn.

- Establishments at all-day crewed/retained stations be increased to 14.

- The proposal to change whole-time shift patterns is withdrawn.

- The guarantee of no further cuts is extended to cover uniformed posts.

County Councillor David Lloyd said: "We asked the FBU to suspend all strike action so we could consider its ideas in detail - that seems reasonable to me.

"You can't negotiate with a gun to your head.

"I don't want to sound ungracious, but reducing a 48-hour strike to an eight-hour strike is still striking.

"It doesn't feel like much of a concession to me. People are still being put at risk, even though there is a chance of moving forward with negotiations."

Cllr Lloyd said there had been 60 hours of talks in which the county council had suggested "reasonable proposals" which were "rejected out of hand".

He added: "This strike is unnecessary, but so were the other strikes."

Graham Noakes, the FBU's regional secretary, said of the reduction in strike action: "This window of opportunity will give both sides an opportunity to resolve the dispute."

Chief fire officer Roy Wilsher has warned that the military will not be called in to provide emergency cover during the strike action.

- Veteran campaigner Terry Hutt continued his support for the Royston firefighters by joining their picket line on Friday.

Mr Hutt was joined by fellow campaigner Derek Macaree, who is also part of the Royston Pensioners Action Group, outside the Royston fire station.

Mr Hutt said: "Ninety-nine per cent of people driving past gave us a toot in support of the cause.

"The four-and-a-half hours we spent outside were worthwhile, especially as we are making more people aware of what's going on."

Mr Hutt collected a 6,000-signature petition against the cuts when the changes to the fire service were originally being discussed.


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