Below are two bulletins from the FBU in relation to the Merseyside Firefighters strike which is in opposition to job cuts. Details of the Hardship Fund are included.
Merseyside Strike Action Solid
Merseyside STRIKE action SOLIDMerseyside members walk out in strike over massive planned cuts to the local fire serviceMerseyside fire crews walked out on strike at 10am Thursday morning in a massive show of opposition to the planned cuts to the local fire service.
Morale on the picket lines was high as off-duty members and officials from across the country – from the Highlands in Scotland to Cornwall in the South West of England, including the FBU’s national leadership – visited, showing their solidarity with Merseyside members.
At an FBU meeting in Merseyside 40 had been expected, but 500 turned up and the venue had to be changed to accommodate the additional numbers.
Local fire crews are set to strike for four days until Monday 4 September, 10.00am, and will then be striking for a further four days from 1200 midday 4 September.
The Union on Thursday repeatedly asked for talks with senior management, including twice on Radio Merseyside. But the fire authority said it was “too busy” to attend talks, although some informal talks have been pencilled in for the weekend.
As the first strike day kicked in, chief fire officer McGuirk admitted using staff from the fire authority’s personnel and finance department to provide emergency fire cover – saying that this was an acceptable move because they didn’t need to be “fully trained”.
Further cuts to firefighter posts
Enflaming the dispute, fire crews have learned that the fire authority agreed two days before the strike started – but not informed the Union – of a cut of a further 18 wholetime firefighter posts at Croxteth fire stations.
In a letter to McGuirk, FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said the chief fire officer appeared to have “embarked on a confrontational strategy” which has “given major cause for concern.”
The Union has called for independent inquiry into significant industrial relation problems which have dogged Merseyside fire service for several years.
Members in the brigade voted 3:1 in favour of strike action over cuts they say will compromise firefighter and public safety. The strike is in protest at plans to cut 120 emergency response firefighter posts – one in ten of the workforce – 15 emergency fire control operator posts and axe four fire engines at night time. There will be fewer rescue appliances, fewer firefighters on fire engines and a longer wait for crews to arrive to all 999 emergencies.
Cuts will damage operational capabilityThe loss of one in ten fulltime firefighter posts – in addition to the 68 posts lost last year – will inevitably damage the overall operational capability of the Merseyside fire and rescue service.
Fire crews say this will clearly compromise their safety and the safety of the public.
Members and officials are urged to show soldarity with Merseyside members by sending messages of support, visiting picket lines while off-duty and contributing to the strike fund.
Merseyside Hardship Fund
HSBC BankSort code:40-29-28
Account number: 91320165
05 September 2006
Merseyside Fire Crews Turn Up Pressure on Fire Authority as Union Announces Eight More Days of Strike Action
Merseyside fire crews are taking eight more days of strike action. The fire authority has been given the statutory notice of the start of strike action from 10.00 on 12 September until 10.00 on 20 September.The strike is in opposition to proposed cuts which include:
- Cutting 120 firefighter posts – one in ten of the workforce –in addition to the 68 posts cut last year;
- Introducing a 96 hour week at some fire stations; Cutting 15 emergency fire control operator posts –one in four of the workforce Axing four fire engines at night time;
- There will be fewer rescue appliances, fewer firefighters on fire engines and a longer wait for crews to arrive at all 999 emergencies.
Les Skarratts, Chair of Merseyside FBU said: “We’re happy to reach a negotiated agreement in talks. At present the talks have stalled and they will give us no dates for future meetings which is bitterly disappointing.
Merseyside fire crews, including those in emergency fire control, are absolutely determined to maintain momentum and keep up pressure on the fire authority. We are leaving senior managers in no doubt that we will have either thrashed out a deal by 12 September or the next set of strike action commences.
We have formally proposed bringing in the specialist national fire service negotiators to assist us in resolving this dispute. That is the correct procedure and they have huge experience in assisting the resolution of disputes, especially on those issues covered by national agreements and which are not only local issues.
Our morale is high, our determination to stop savage cuts across the Merseyside fire and rescue service is unwavering. We have tremendous support from a public which has rumbled managers who claim they can improve a public service by cutting it. The public know we’re not doing this because we want more money or better conditions. It’s not about what’s in it for us, it’s because we know these cuts are wrong and will impact on our safety and public safety.”