Firefighters strike again in row over contracts

London's firefighters went on strike again today in a row over new contracts.



The eight-hour stoppage follows the collapse of 11th-hour talks between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the capital's brigade.



The two sides met yesterday for more than four hours at the Local Government Association headquarters in Westminster, but the talks ended without any agreement.



Members of the FBU stopped work from 10am, forcing the capital's fire brigade to hire contract staff to provide cover.



A similar strike was held on October 23 and the union is still planning a two-day strike from the morning of November 5, which will include Bonfire Night and November 6 when scores of firework and bonfire displays will be held across the capital.



London's Fire Authority signed a £9 million five-year contract last year with private firm AssetCo to provide a contingency level of fire and rescue services if firefighters were not available because of severe pandemic illness, industrial action, natural disaster or catastrophic incident.



During the strike, firefighters will attend incidents including serious fires, explosions, blazes involving gas cylinders or hazardous substances and road collisions but not incidents such as grass fires, flooding and people stuck in lifts, according to the brigade.



Although AssetCo fire engines are not trained to work as specialist CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) units, a London Fire Brigade (LFB) spokesman said a terrorist attack would receive a fire service response because specialist equipment and crews were a "national resource".



It was also hoped firefighters could be recalled in the event of a major emergency during the strike, he added.



The spokesman said: "The London Fire Brigade's contingency plans have, for the second day of FBU strike action, been rolled out on schedule.



"All 162 contract staff providing the fire and rescue service in the capital today are either now available or waiting to be deployed from the brigade's training centre in Southwark.



"During the day 27 fully crewed appliances will operate, responding to 999 calls received."



A spokeswoman for the FBU said senior officers had walked out alongside rank-and-file staff.



One senior officer and union member - area manager Chris Crooks - said: "The values of the fire service are of respect and trust between management and firefighters, and the management in London don't seem to want to work that way any more."



The brigade wants to change the current 15-hour night shift and nine-hour day shift to provide a longer day shift, saying that firefighters will continue to work two day shifts followed by two night shifts then have four days off.



The union has accused the capital's fire brigade of threatening thousands of firefighters with the sack if they do not agree to new shift patterns.



Following the collapse of yesterday's talks, FBU regional official Paul Embery said: "We are clearly extremely disappointed that the London Fire Brigade representatives brought absolutely nothing new to the meeting and all they did was reiterate their position held for several weeks."



Mr Embery said the FBU had called a further meeting for tomorrow, but the LFB were yet to commit to it.



Meanwhile LFB assistant commissioner David Brown said: "We think it's reckless and completely irresponsible. There is no need to strike, we've been talking all day about a variety of options. We invited the FBU for independent arbitration on two separate dates and they refused."



He said the LFB was "available for talks any time" in a bid to prevent the weekend strike.



Fire Minister Bob Neill said: "I urge the FBU to return to the negotiating table. I am sure that this dispute can be resolved through reasoned and peaceful talks."



A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: "We are bitterly disappointed that a profession which prides itself on protecting and reassuring the public seem determined to torment Londoners over minor and extremely reasonable adjustments to their very flexible working arrangements.



"Thorough and responsible contingency planning should ensure that Guy Fawkes week remains safe and enjoyable in this city but that does not detract from the FBU's cynical and miserable refusal to subject their case to independent arbitration and call off this unnecessary strike."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Investigo: management accountant

£250 - £300 per day: Investigo: Growing international marketing business requi...

Recruitment Genius: ORM / Online Reputational Consultant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ORM Consultant is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of educat...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore