Updated/Poll: Essex fire chiefs confident five strikes can be averted

FIREFIGHTERS in Essex have announced five days of strikes over the coming months in a dispute over cuts.

The Fire Brigades Union said its members will take industrial action on June 28, July 7 and 18, August 18 and October 18.

But bosses at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service say they are confident that strike action can be averted with talks.

The union said the county will have lost one in five frontline firefighters since 2008 if a current round of planned cuts goes ahead.

Alan Chinn-Shaw, chairman of the FBU’s Essex branch, said: “This is about cuts to frontline firefighters and changes imposed on firefighters. We’ve had enough and the cuts are now directly impacting on public and firefighter safety.

“The cuts and impositions continue while the fire authority says it wants talks. That simply undermines the talks before they start.

“The recent highly provocative removal of key fire engines and vital rescue equipment contradicts the fire authority claim that it is being reasonable. This two-faced approach has gone on for three years and enough is enough.”

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Essex firefighters voted by 2-1 in favour of strikes following almost three years of action short of a strike over cuts.

Essex Chief Fire Officer David Johnson says that talks with ACAS will go ahead on Monday and he hopes that union officials will accept the offer from senior managers to attend.

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