Won’t allow unions to undermine strike plans, says chief as strike begins on Xmas Eve

FIRE Brigade Union members are attempting to scupper ECFRS’ resilience arrangements on New Year’s Eve with an eleventh hour demand ordering retained crews to extend their action.

This below the belt tactic is designed to undermine Essex’ well-oiled back up plans for strike cover which have proven success in past periods of industrial action.

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson has slammed the hypocrisy of national FBU officials, who claim his decision not to pay strikers who want to return to work after their New Year celebrations at half past midnight, is putting lives at risk.

“If they don’t want to put lives at risk, then they shouldn’t be going on strike at all,” he said. “How many organisations would pay people to celebrate New Years’ Eve with family and friends, then come back to work to sleep it off on double time with a day off on top?

“The timing of this dispute is a total affront to families that strongly support firefighters all year round and if anyone is playing with lives, it’s the FBU.

“Unlike other parts of the country, ECFRS has very strong resilience arrangements in place to keep the County safe. We have taken a management decision to rely on these arrangements so that we can be properly prepared for any outcome.

“While the FBU call may put retained members under pressure to join the action, it will not affect the decisions of those community minded individuals who choose to work to protect the communities they live in, whatever the politics.

“This is the only place in the UK where the FBU has chosen to put innocent retained crews on the line.”

FBU members will strike between 6pm and midnight on Christmas Eve. Returning strikers will be paid for the rest of the shift so that resilience crews can get back to celebrate Christmas Day with their families.

The New Year strike will take place between 6.30pm until 00:30 hrs on New Years Day – though resilience arrangements will be in place until 09:00 hrs when the day shift begins. Striking firefighters have been told they will not be required for the rest of their shift and will not be paid.

During periods of reduced fire cover, members of the public should continue to dial 999 in an emergency and ECFRS working crews will respond.

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