London FBU: Industrial action to begin as talks break down

London FBU is set to commence industrial action next week after talks aimed at averting a dispute ended in deadlock. The union will announce its ballot result on Thursday, and senior officials say they are expecting a big ‘yes’ vote.

The action is in response to a sustained period of aggression by London Fire Brigade managers, which has seen attacks to a number of conditions of service. Brigade managers and union leaders attended two full days of talks, which stretched late into the night, but the brigade was not prepared to concede the union’s demands.

Speaking after the talks break down, the union’s regional secretary, Joe MacVeigh, said, “We have tried to resolve matters peacefully and sensibly, just as our members would expect us to do. But the reality is that we have a very clear and justified set of demands, and the brigade hasn’t met them. “We were in talks until eleven o’clock last night [Monday], so no one can accuse us of pulling the trigger prematurely. We have made genuine efforts to reach agreement, but we are not prepared to settle at any price.

We have legitimate objections to a number of issues that are having, or will have, a detrimental impact on our members, such as CPD, subsistence, the drugs and alcohol policy, camp-out bases, targeted-calling, light duties and the booking of leave.

We have made it clear to the brigade that the culture of railroading stuff through with no regard for the concerns of the workforce must end. It is that approach that has driven us to take industrial action, some thing we are always very reluctant to do.

We have made ourselves available for further discussions prior to the commencement of action, but the brigade should be in no doubt that, in the absence of a reasonable offer, the action will begin soon after the announcement of the ballot result and will, I’m sure, be wholeheartedly supported by members across London members. The message from members is that enough is enough. It’s time to start fighting back.

At last week’s meeting of the union’s London regional committee, delegates voted in favour of a resolution demanding that industrial action not be suspended simply on an employers’ promise of further “talks”— a clear departure from the tactics employed by the national union leadership during the pay strikes in 2002.

The union will also send clear guidance to every member’s home address, explaining the industrial action in detail. In response to the threat of action, brigade managers are censoring all email communications from FBU officials, but the union insists this will not prevent it keeping its members informed. Members are urged to keep up to date by visiting the London FBU website at


(Note: The ballot was for industrial action short of strike action.)

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