Firefighters to strike over cuts


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The Independent Online

Firefighters in Essex are to stage five 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.

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."

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

In a statement, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said it was confident that strike action could be averted.

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said talks with Acas will go ahead on Monday.

More than 100 firefighters have signed "resilience contracts" guaranteeing their availability during periods of staff shortage and members of the retained fire service have indicated they will continue to provide cover, a spokesman said.