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Tower Hamlets firefighters to strike on Monday over shift change plans

PUBLISHED: 17:35 29 October 2010

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Tower Hamlets firefighters are poised to strike for the second time in nine days on Monday (November 1) as union and brigade bosses remain locked in an industrial dispute.

The Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) went on strike last Saturday (October 23) over London Fire Brigade (LFB) plans to change shift patterns and a borough union official says the dispute is now affecting fire cover in Tower Hamlets.

Poplar and Whitechapel stations both remain without one fire engine since the strike as they were removed by the LFB to provide contingency cover during future industrial action.

Chris Boag, the FBU borough secretary, estimates that Shadwell station in Cable Street has been closed for 40 per cent of the time since the start of October because of a lack of managerial cover as union members are not willing to ‘act up’.

He said: “There is a problem of delayed attendance because we have two less engines.

“If we have to rely on engines coming from neighbouring boroughs, they will take longer and they won’t know the area as well.

“Three fire engines were also removed from Hackney fire stations which has a knock-on effect on fire cover here.”

A Brigade spokesman said that if stations are closed the Brigade will still provide adequate fire cover.

He said: “We’d like to reassure people that while the current work to rule action is taking place staff and vehicles are moved around to ensure cover across London’s 112 fire stations, including those in Tower Hamlets.

“If for any reason staff or fire engines in a particular station are temporarily unavailable, we allocate resources from elsewhere to provide cover.”

Monday’s strike is set to begin at 10am and last for eight hours and the LFB is asking Tower Hamlets residents to take extra care for the duration of the strike, especially when cooking or smoking.

The LFB wants to change day shifts from nine to 12 hours and night shifts from 15 to 12 arguing that it will allow firefighters to be more productive during the day and will allow them to carry out more fire prevention work.

The union argues that it will affect the amount of time members can spend with their families and will also lead to cuts in night-time cover.

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