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Tower Hamlets firefighters go on strike including Poplar station walk-out

PUBLISHED: 15:25 25 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:15 25 October 2010

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members protest outside Poplar fire station in East India Dock Road

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members protest outside Poplar fire station in East India Dock Road

Carmen Valino

THE FIRE Brigades Union followed through on a threat to strike on Saturday, including at Poplar fire station

Firefighters in Tower Hamlets and across London completed an eight-hour strike on Saturday, including a walk-out of Fire Brigade Union (FBU) members from Poplar fire station.

FBU members formed a picket line outside the station in East India Dock Road and held protest banners over London Fire Brigade demands that they change to twelve-hour day and night shifts, which could lead to mass sackings if no settlement is reached.

Paul Embery, the FBU’s London regional officer, estimated around 100 on-duty and off-duty firefighters protested at the Poplar station as part of the strike which lasted from 10am to 6pm.

Mr Embery said: “The union support across London was absolutely solid.

“I’m not aware of a single firefighter who crossed the picket line.”

Relations between FBU members and their LFB bosses have taken a downward turn since Saturday’s strike action though.

The LFB has alleged that their ‘contingency’ service, private company AssetCo Fire and Rescue, faced ‘abuse, violence and harassment’ as they tried to access fire stations.

They said all 27 fire engines employed on the day, including two removed from Poplar and Whitechapel fire stations, were followed and threatened.

The LFB did not make any specific allegations of such incidents in Tower Hamlets.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Despite the mindless actions which posed a real danger to Londoners, the emergency fire crew delivered the plans to keep the capital safe.

“However, Londoners should never have been put at risk by the actions of a minority of individuals hell-bent on causing disruption.”

The LFB said 162 replacement firefighters responded to 49 incidents in London during the strike.

Ian Lehair, FBU Executive Council Member for London, said: “We are not aware of any AssetCo fire engines being prevented to enter fire stations and we are not aware of any harassment or intimidation.

“We are aware of peaceful protests by firefighters who are threatened with losing their jobs.”

A meeting between the LFB and FBU is being held this afternoon (October 25).

Mr Embery also indicated that the union intends to ‘escalate’ its strike action beyond current plans to hold a further strike on November 1 if no agreement is reached.

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