London firefighters set to walk out on strike

Thousands of London firefighters will take the "terrible step" of going on strike tomorrow after a row over new contracts remained deadlocked.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union will walk out for eight hours from 10am, with a further eight-hour stoppage planned for next month if the row is not resolved.



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



London Fire Brigade has pledged to respond to 999 calls throughout the strike, but officials admitted a fire engine may not be sent to less urgent and non life threatening incidents, including rubbish fires, fires on open ground, large animal rescues, flooding, people stuck in lifts and gas leaks.



The Brigade said its contingency arrangements allowed it to place up to 27 fire appliances at strategic locations across London and was a "significant improvement" on the military green goddesses used during the last strike.



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.



FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said the strike was a "terrible step" to have to take, adding: "London's firefighters feel it is the only step they can now take.



"They are taking the action because, on August 11, the London Fire Brigade formally began the legal process of terminating the employment contracts of 5,600 London firefighters.



"If they had not started that process, we would not be going on strike. If the dismissals are lifted now, the strike will be called off straight away.



"Firefighters hate going on strike, but they hate being bullied even more. The London Fire Brigade is trying to bully them, and they won't have it. That's why there was a 79% majority in our ballot for a strike, on a 79% turnout - a huge mandate by any standards."



Mr Wrack will lead a walkout at Euston fire station before touring picket lines in the capital.



London firefighters have been taking industrial action short of a strike over the "mass sackings threat", including a ban on overtime, since September.



The brigade wants to reduce the current 15-hour night shift to 12 hours, and increase the current nine-hour day shift to 12 hours, therefore providing a longer day shift, saying that firefighters will continue to work two day shifts followed by two night shifts then have four days off.



A spokesman said: "The current start and finish times have been in place since 1979 and the work we do today has changed dramatically. We don't just respond to fires anymore. Firefighters train for and attend a much wider range of incidents such as flooding, collapsed buildings, chemical incidents etc, and work harder than ever before to prevent fires from happening in the first place.



"The current start and finish times also result in a change of shift during both the morning and evening rush hours when fire brigade incident demand is at its highest."



London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, said: "We'll be responding to 999 calls and doing everything we can to protect the public during this unnecessary FBU strike using our contingency plans. The public can really help us by taking extra care and taking extra time today to think about fire safety."



Brian Coleman, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: "This action is based on suggested cuts. There are no cuts. This strike is pointless and unjustified and we must focus on talks to resolve the dispute."



London Fire Brigade said tonight it had tabled revised proposals aimed at averting further strikes, but the union described the move as a "gimmick" and confirmed that tomorrow's walkout would go ahead.



The brigade said it had offered a revised shift pattern of an 11-hour day shift and a 13-hour night shift, tied in with a number of new incentives and details of start and finish options.



"This is the third time that the brigade has offered to compromise on its original proposals of two 12-hour shifts and believes it is a positive step in resolving the dispute," said a statement.



The brigade said it was seeking the involvement of national negotiators and had proposed a meeting on November 5.



London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said, "I remain fully committed to a negotiated agreement and to ending the dispute with the FBU as soon as possible. I am confident that constructive discussions can be held and a resolution found."



An FBU spokesman said: "The threat to sack all London firefighters has not been lifted. We have already put two compromise proposals forward, with no response from the brigade.



"They don't seem to want to compromise and this is just a gimmick."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
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
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
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: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us