Fire strikes have been called in London as LFEPA is in dispute with the FBU over proposed shift changes. These proposals involve no loss of pay, benefits, jobs or fire stations.
The proposals were voted for unanimously on a cross party basis at LFEPA.
The current shift pattern is two day shifts of 9 hours length followed by two night shifts of 15 hours. It is proposed to change this to two day shifts of 12 hours followed by two night shifts of 12 hours.
This will increase the Brigade's efficiency by, for example, allowing firefighters to do more community safety work on the day shifts. It will not in any way reduce the amount of night cover. The real reason the FBU is opposed is because the new patterns may affect firefighters' second jobs. One can have more sleep on a 15 hour quiet night shift than on a 12 hour night shift.
South Yorkshire Fire Authority have already successfully implemented similar changes.
These proposals were started under the previous Labour Mayoralty and have been around for 5 years. The FBU refuses to negotiate.
On 10 August 2010 the LFEPA started formal consultation with the FBU under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. This consultation period lasts for 90 days, at the end of which the Authority can terminate existing employment contracts and offer re-engagement on new start and finish times. This is not a threat to ‘sack’ firefighters – but a way of bringing this long running dispute to a conclusion.
The FBU say that if the S188 action is withdrawn they will end the strike action. However, that clearly means that we cannot get through these sensible, pragmatic change.
The FBU went on strike last Saturday 23 October and will be going on strike again on 1 November and announced yesterday its intention to strike over bonfire night weekend (5-7 Nov).
A private contractor, AssetCo has been employed to provide cover across London during strikes. On Saturday this cover worked at expected despite intimidation, harrassment and bullying by AssetCo staff by demonstrators.
There is evidence of cars being parked on hoses so water couldn't be pumped, There is evidence of cars and motorcycles surrounding fire appliances being driven by AssetCo staff and slowing them down. There are incidents of equipment being taken off or chained to appliances and water being emptied of appliances' tanks. Witness statements and CCTV coverage has been forwarded to the police.
See the YouTube clip above of demonstrators outside LFEPA headquarters in Southwark.
People should not cancel their fireworks parties as Boris says:
"There are solid contingency plans in place to deal with further firefighters strikes and Londoners should be confident that they can go ahead with their fireworks parties but, as always, take tried and tested precautions by following the Firework Code. This is provided we don't see any repetition of the disgraceful scenes during Saturday's strike, where it is alleged that many protesters attempted to impede the work of the emergency crews in extinguishing fires.These allegations have rightly been reported to the police to investigate further."