Herts fire union could launch industrial action in response to crew reduction

PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 August 2019

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

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Herts' fire union agreed yesterday that it would carry out industrial action if fire crew reduction plans go ahead.

Hertfordshire County Council agreed in July - as part of a package of plans to reform Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, known as the IRMP - to reduce minimal maintenance of crews from five to four.

The local Fire Brigades Union has seen this reduction as unsafe.

"We are particularly concerned that, despite widespread public opposition to reducing crew sizes from five firefighters to four on frontline appliances, the IRMP still proposes this reduction," Herts FBU secretary Daren Scotchford said before the final vote in July.

"We would urge the county council to think again on this and other proposed cuts, as we believe they will be to the detriment of both firefighters and the public's safety and welfare."

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At a meeting yesterday, the FBU St Albans branch proposed that the Brigade Executive Committee enter into a short period of negotiations with HCC with a view to rescinding the new fire crew policy, reverting to the previously agreed and longstanding crewing arrangements.

It would also want the HCC to recruit and fill its vacancies, rather than rely on overtime to provide its core service.

If the negotiations prove unsucessful the Herts FBU has said, agreed to by all brigades and seconded by Stevenage, that a formal trade dispute will be registered with the HCC.

"And the Brigade Committee take every necessary step to prepare members for industrial action short of strike," the group said in a statement. "This will include regular reports to the Brigade Executive Committee on state of readiness, balloting arrangements and related matters."

Darryl Keen, chief fire officer for Hertfordshire, said it was "disappointing" its got to this point.

"Especially given that there are over 700 operational staff in the service but only 120 responses from both staff and the public were received during the three month consultation period prior to publication of the IRMP," Mr Keen said.

"However, it is important for any organisation to listen to the concerns of its staff and so I have today spoken with the secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in Hertfordshire and we will be meeting shortly to discuss their concerns."

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