A fire chief has said “we will not pay firefighters to sleep it off” as he announced striking crews would not be paid on New Year’s Eve.

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Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members in Essex will join nationwide industrial action between 6.30pm on New Year’s Eve and 12.30am on New Year’s Day.

Ordinarily they would return to complete half a shift after midnight, but the county’s chief fire officer, David Johnson, has told them to stay away.

The FBU responded by branding Mr Johnson “Scrooge” for what it described as a malicious move.

Announcing that firefighters would not be paid for completing partial shifts and would not receive their customary lieu day, Mr Johnson said: “We’re not having firefighters coming back to work after New Year’s Eve and climbing straight into bed to sleep it off.

“If any firefighter wants to turn up and work a full shift, we will pay them for that. But our resilience arrangements are extremely strong so we don’t need to use taxpayers’ money to pay firefighters to go to bed.”

Essex FBU responded by calling for retained firefighters, who would have plugged some of the gaps, to join the strike.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, described Mr Johnson’s decision as “incredibly irresponsible” and “deliberately malicious”.

“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,” he added.

“Everyone knows the stand-in cover during strike periods is unreliable and has a very much reduced capacity to deal with emergencies.

“Even Scrooge paid Marley a pittance for working on a public holiday.”

Up until now, the fire service has only withheld pay from striking firefighters for the amount of time they withdrew their labour.

Mr Johnson said the timing of the latest industrial action is deliberately antagonistic, designed to put the service to maximum inconvenience and expense.

He said he was confident the service could continue to provide a good response to emergencies without retained firefighters.

“The service is under no obligation to accept partial performance of contract,” he added.

“Each strike period is considered on a case-by-case basis.”

Strikes are due to take place on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and January 3.

3 comments

  • I strongly disagree with this action by the CFO. It seems very antagonistic and I suspect he does not care too much about the tax payer as much as he suggests! Also, it is a fact that firefighters are striking purely over the changes to their pension so it is worth noting that a CFO pension would make a firefighter pension look like buttons. Oh and the CFO pension is safe and non contributory!! Saying all that, surely the most relevant part of the article is the fact that the man in charge of Essex fire service is suggesting that his employees simply turn up to work on a night and sleep. Furthermore, he hints that they may turn up incapable of carrying out their duties "needing to sleep it off". This is the man in charge of the service so how on earth can he still be in such a high roll of responsibility and salary if he has such an appalling workforce!!!! Please consider that firefighters and other people in the public sector are not the life sucking drain on society that this government is suggesting. The rich get richer and richer

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    Paul

    Wednesday, December 25, 2013

  • Firefighters are paying £4,000 a year into their pensions. The contract they signed has now been discarded by the government. This is theft of the pension that they have paid for!! ie The government has Mis-sold ALL F.fighters a pension plan! Nobody in any occupation can maintain the same fitness level for forty years! and because F.fighters get older they will NOW be sacked and their pension frozen! despite having paid from their OWN wages £40,000 for every 10 years of service. The Union has tried to negotiate with the government for two years and now after being told the pension changes will be enforced they have held a legal ballot to take strike action. As is the right of every worker public or private sector! F.fighters should not be pilloried because they are trying to stand up for what is right. Their pensions are being stolen. While the storms batter Britain this week politicians praise the bravery and commitment of F.fighters while stabbing them in the back and picking their pockets. This is not a public V private sector fight but a fight for what is fair and what is right.

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    Dave.C

    Tuesday, December 24, 2013

  • Yeh well done, why should they get paid. The cost of replacement officers will be the same no matter how long they are hired. I support this 100%

    Report this comment

    Lee Thomas

    Monday, December 23, 2013

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