Strike over job fears
FIREFIGHTERS have named the dates of two eight-hour strikes in a row over job cuts. Industrial action has been set for next Monday (May l5) and Saturday (May 20) from 2pm until 10pm on both days. It follows an eight to one vote in favour of strike action.
FIREFIGHTERS have named the dates of two eight-hour strikes in a row over job cuts.
Industrial action has been set for next Monday (May l5) and Saturday (May 20) from 2pm until 10pm on both days. It follows an eight to one vote in favour of strike action.
Fire bosses at Hertfordshire said they were "shocked and dismayed" by the announcement of strike dates at a press conference on Monday.
Fire bosses have already warned there will be no support available from the military to deal with emergencies when Hertfordshire firefighters take strike action.
Hertfordshire FBU vice-chairman Tony Smith said strike action was necessary following planned cuts which include the closure of Radlett and Bovingdon stations, the downgrading of Royston station and the loss of posts from Stevenage, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.
Stevenage MP Barbara Follett said: "I am sorry that things have got to this. Under the proposed reconfiguration, Stevenage Fire Station will only lose one firefighter from each of its four shifts. I realise that this will cause problems and require adjustment. But the four firefighters involved are not losing their jobs. They are going to join the Fire Services' Community Safety Team because more emphasis is being placed on prevention rather than cure."
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North East Herts MP Oliver Heald said: "I am very concerned at the Prescott-inspired cuts proposed and have actively campaigned against them, including personally attending the lobby at County Hall.
"I cannot support a strike that may put my constituents at risk, but I do understand the feelings of firefighters who believe that their professionalism is being challenged."
Hitchin MP Peter Lilley said: "The fire service is yet another area where the Government's obsession with regionalisation is putting pressure on the county council to centralise provision.
"Even so I do not think people in the emergency services should use the strike weapon - it would be better to seek arbitration if the dispute cannot be resolved by consultation."
AGAINST the strike
County Councillor David Lloyd, executive member for community safety, said: "This is an irresponsible tactic designed to put a gun to our heads. It's alarming that they would move away from reasonable talks to bully-boy threats. Threatening to jeopardise public safety like this is not the way to progress discussions.
"I believed that both sides were anxious to avert a strike, but now it looks as if only the county council really meant it. We had moved a long way in our discussions.
"I've suggested that we could now involve national negotiators if that helps move this on. A strike would put everyone in danger."
FOR the strike
Hertfordshire FBU vice-chairman Tony Smith said: "The short term action will minimise the impact on the public and fire crews will be available for normal working immediately before and after lawful periods of action. In contrast, the planned cuts would make our work less safe and the public less safe 365 days a year for years to come.
"None of us want to take any action but we have been left with little choice when we look at the savage cuts we are still facing.
"We are already one of the lowest spending county fire authorities in England, and there is no room for cuts of this magnitude in this county.