Firefighters dispute is finally settled
FIRE union members have agreed to call off the prolonged period of strike action launched in protest at job cuts, it emerged last night. In a joint announcement yesterday, Suffolk County Council and the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) in Suffolk said both parties had reached an agreement to settle the dispute and bring an end to industrial action.
By Danielle Nuttall
FIRE union members have agreed to call off the prolonged period of strike action launched in protest at job cuts, it emerged last night.
In a joint announcement yesterday, Suffolk County Council and the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) in Suffolk said both parties had reached an agreement to settle the dispute and bring an end to industrial action.
Members of the FBU mounted strike action in early August to show their defiance against a decision to axe 12 specialist jobs operating the turntable ladder at Bury St Edmunds.
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The dispute - which involved a total of 22 strikes - at one point saw more than 250 firefighters from across the UK march to the Cornhill in Ipswich in protest at the job cuts, which they claimed put the public at greater risk.
But after a weeklong consultation with members, the FBU in Suffolk has reached a deal with the fire authority and has agreed to halt its current industrial action.
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The agreement includes a new multi-role vehicle to replace the turntable ladder at Bury St Edmunds.
The fire service has also agreed to re-invest in nine firefighter posts in community safety roles and has committed to keeping the establishment of 253 whole-time fire fighter posts as well as offered the FBU a greater role in the Suffolk Safety Plan (Integrated Risk Management Plan) process.
The joint statement said both sides acknowledged that the responsibility for the safety plan, along with the associated deployment of resources, rested with Suffolk County Council as the fire authority.
It added that both sides remain committed to protect the public and reduce the number of lives lost in Suffolk.
Vince Jell, Suffolk FBU Chair, said: “Suffolk FBU members remain committed to ensuring the safety of the Suffolk public.
“The Fire Authority has given our members assurances about the future of the service and we look forward to working with them to improve and maintain public safety.
“This includes ensuring that all appliances (both wholetime and retained) are crewed with the correct amount of firefighters.”
Cllr Joanna Spicer, portfolio holder for public protection, added: “We have all come a long way in this dispute.
“I would like to thank those who worked so hard to protect the county during this period of disruption.
“What is important now is that we work together on improving Suffolk's record as one of the safest places to live in the country.”