Essex firefighters walk out over cuts


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The Independent Online

Firefighters staged the latest in a series of strikes today in a long-running row over cuts.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Essex walked out of fire stations across the county for 24 hours at 9am following two earlier stoppages, with the threat of further action next month.

Delegations of firefighters from across the UK will join a march and rally in Chelmsford to show their support for the Essex fire crews.

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

FBU official Alan Chinn-Shaw said: "No one wants to go on strike. We have only done so in what is a third year of continuing cuts in frontline services and imposition.

"Strike action is a last resort and we are calling only short periods of lawful strike to limit the risks to the public whilst highlighting the very serious concerns of frontline professionals. Left unchallenged, the frontline cuts would hit public and firefighter safety 24 hours every day, 365 days a year.

"The Essex fire authority has the money to spend on firefighters as it has underspent its frontline staffing budget by over £1.6 million."

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack led a walkout at Basildon fire station.