Essex: Firefighters announce further strike action

FIREFIGHTERS in Essex have announced they will take further industrial action over planned changes to frontline services – on the dates of the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.

Members of the county’s Fire Brigades Union (FBU) had already agreed to walk out of stations across Essex for 24 hours from 9am today, following two earlier stoppages.

FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack, has said further action is now planned as part of the long-running dispute over frontline cuts.

This is to include 999-calls-only during the London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. In addition, they will undertake four, three-hour strikes between July and October.

According to the union, the short periods of strike are aimed at highlighting the serious concerns of frontline professionals, while avoiding and limiting disruptions during the Olympic Games.

The FBU says current plans for cuts would see the loss of one in five frontline crews in Essex since 2008, claiming that the public is already waiting longer for fire crews to turn up.

Mr Wrack said: “The fire authority has shown no sign of compromise and has left us no choice other than to call additional action in our campaign against cuts to the frontline fire and rescue service in Essex, and other imposed changes.

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“Not a single one of the frontline cuts or imposed changes have been put on hold, modified or reversed. The action we announce today is measured,”

He added: “The periods of action are deliberately short and sharp to limit the risks to public and firefighter safety.”

The industrial action announced includes three-hour strikes on July 26, August 11, September 5 and October 18. The service will only respond to 999 emergencies on July 27 and 28, and August 12 and 13.

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