Essex firefighters cancel two strike days


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The Independent Online

Firefighters have cancelled two days of planned strike action which coincided with Olympic mountain biking events.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Essex last week announced plans to take industrial action on August 11 and 12.

The dates clashed with mountain biking at Hadleigh Farm in the county and there were concerns that 999 services could struggle with demand.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said the action had been called off after the union received "sensitive information" about fire service planning for the biking event.

He added: "The other industrial action short of strike and the other short periods of strike action announced last week remain in place but I remain ever-hopeful that a breakthrough in negotiations will come sooner."

The union has already held two full days of strike action and a one-hour strike over planned cuts which they say will hit public safety.

Strikes planned for Thursday July 26, the night of August 11, September 5 and October 18 remain in place.

On Friday night (July 27) members will only attend 999 calls.

A spokesman for the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service welcomed the move but called for a "one-time" compromise to cancel this week's action which coincides with the opening ceremony of the games.

Deputy chief fire officer Adam Eckley said: "We welcome any rethink on strike action.

"But if they are genuine about wanting to minimise disruption, then they will also call off the strike scheduled for July 26/27.

"There is diminishing support for this strike in Essex - retained crews are incensed that they are to bear the brunt of the new campaign of strikes and wholetime firefighters have been trying to find out how this will impact their pay packets."