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Firefighters strike action condemned
12:00pm Thursday 26th December 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS have been accused of putting lives at risk by their own boss.
Chief Fire Officer David Johnson claims if people die during the busiest night of the year the blame lies striking firefighters.
Nationally members of the Fire Brigades’ Union will be striking from 6.30pm until 12.30am on New Year’s Eve.
In Essex striking firefighters have been told they are not welcome back for the rest of the shift and won’t be paid.
It means the service will be working at little over half strength for 15 hours, until 9am on New Year’s Day, instead of the six hours in other areas.
Crews in Essex, unlike elsewhere, won’t be allowed back even if a major incident develops.
In response the Fire Brigades’ Union announced retained firefighters in Essex will strike throughout the period their colleagues are not being paid.
Mr Johnson said: “The taxpayers of Essex foot the bill and I won’t pay firefighters to have a jolly on New Year’s Eve, come back and go to bed for double time and a day off.
“They are being cynical and hypocritical saying I am putting lives in danger by not letting them back when they are the ones going on strike.
“I have spoken to other chief officers who said they would like to do what we are doing but they don’t have the same resilience arrangements.
“If the worst happens and children die it is their making. They are the ones putting lives at risk.”
The service will have 37 fire appliances on the road, about half the normal cover.
A spokesman for the union said: “Essex fire chiefs are putting the people and communities of Essex at unnecessarily increased risk.
“This is punishment meted out locally only for Essex firefighters taking part in a short period of national strike action over pensions.
“Nowhere else in the country has made this decision or is putting their communities at increased.”
FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack added: “This is an incredibly irresponsible decision. It is completely unnecessary and turns the lawful, six-hour national strike called by the FBU into a 15-hour period of significantly reduced 999 cover in Essex on the orders of fire chiefs.
“Everyone knows the stand-in cover during strike periods is unreliable and has a very much reduced capacity to deal with emergencies.”
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