Firefighters ready for action as talks breakdown

London firefighters are 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 6 August, 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 breakdown, the Fire Brigage 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 [continual professional development], 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, something we are always very reluctant to do.

The action will begin soon after the announcement of the ballot result and MacVeigh added: “The message from members is that enough is enough. It’s time to start fighting back.”

5 August 2009

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