Minister accuses firefighters of breaking major blaze strike deal

Brandon Lewis says union members breached deal after refusing to work during a fire that had been declared a 'major incident' by brigade chiefs

Striking firefighters were accused by a minister of breaching a deal after refusing to work during a fire that had been declared a “major incident” by brigade chiefs.

The latest strike by firemen went ahead as planned at 6.30pm despite a fierce blaze at a scrap metal dealership in Dagenham, East London.

The London Fire Brigade issued a 'recall' of Fire Brigade Union (FBU) members but it was ignored, said the union's London secretary Paul Embery, because there had been no consultation or agreement.

“There has been no recall of Fire Brigade Union members agreed,” he said. “Unless this changes, firefighters will therefore continue to respect the strike action until 11pm tonight. The London Fire Brigade has been giving assurances that their contingencies were sufficient.”

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis and the brigade's leadership, however, insisted that by refusing to carry on working the union had broken a promise to continue working during major fires.

Mr Lewis said: “I'm pleased to see contingency plans across the country are working well so far tonight. Even in London, where the FBU have disappointingly breached the return to work protocol for a major incident, contingency plans have continued to keep the public safe.

”I'd like to thank all whole-time and retained firefighters and volunteers who have remained on duty tonight.“

Ron Dobson London Fire Commissioner also slammed the FBU: ”The large fire in Dagenham is on-going and has been declared a major incident.

“We have issued a recall notice and are asking striking Fire Brigades Union members in London to carry on working.

”The FBU have told firefighters not to follow the recall notice. They claim the recall is not valid because there is no risk to life. There is no reference to risk of life in the agreed protocols to implement a major incident.

“A major incident can and has been implemented because of the size of this fire and the resources needed to deal with it. By not responding to the recall it is the FBU that is in breach of the agreement.”

Nevertheless, the brigade said they were able to cope perfectly well using just “contingency crews” - non-union, part-time and volunteer firefighters.

The strike ended at 11pm but a further two-hour stoppage is scheduled for Monday at 6pm.

Fire brigades across the country had urged members of the public to put off any firework displays in their own gardens last and to switch them to today or to go to an organised event.

The union held a four-hour stoppage last month but called off another strike after it appeared a deal was in sight, but officials said the Government and fire employers had failed to offer any firm guarantees on jobs or pensions as a result of changing the pension age from 55 to 60.

The union fears firefighters will be made redundant if they fail fitness tests and are unable to find other work in the fire service.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “It is ludicrous that after two years of negotiations the Government has still not sorted out this mess.

”Firefighters are keen for these issues to be resolved through discussion but the Government won't even listen to its own evidence which highlights that the schemes are unworkable and unaffordable.

“Firefighters want a pension scheme that takes account of the hazardous nature of the job, is affordable and workable for them and for the taxpayer. We hope this brief strike will mean the Government returns to negotiations so we can agree a sensible way forward.”

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape