East London firefighters will strike over shift change dispute

Two days of strike action agreed with first on October 23

THE FIRE Brigades Union will take two days of strike action over a dispute with the London Fire Brigade on proposed changes to shift patterns. Firefighters decided last Friday (October 15) to strike on Saturday (October 23) and November 1 for eight hours on both occasions, which will lead to walk-outs in fire stations across east London.

The London Fire Brigade wants to standardise day and night shifts to nine hours.

If union members do not agree to the new contract terms at the end of a 90-day consultation period, the Brigade has said that dismissals without compensation will be considered.

Paul Embery, the FBU’s London regional officer, said: “They didn’t withdraw the threat of massed sackings, so we have decided on two days of strike action.

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“It’s an agonizing decision for firefighters to go on strike, but when you’re threatened with losing your job, you’re left with very few options.

“We’ve said we’re available at all times and meetings are pencilled in for next week.

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“We’ve made it clear though that if the threat of redundancies aren’t removed, the strikes will go ahead.”

Brian Coleman, the chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: “Firefighters are going to be striking over plans to reduce a 15 hour night shift by three hours, and add those three hours to a 9 hour day shift. “That is all these proposals seek to do, no station closures, no increase in hours and no change to the four day rest period between shifts.

“This is about making more time in the day for vital training and fire prevention work.

“We’ve been discussing this for five years and have offered to compromise, so it’s time for the FBU to stop blocking these changes.”

The Brigade has withdrawn 27 fire engines from stations across London, including Poplar and Whitechapel stations, to be used by a private company called AssetCo as a contingency service in the event of a strike.

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