Striking Bexley firefighters claim they have public support
PUBLISHED: 16:04 03 November 2010
Striking firefighters claim they have public support for the series of walkouts which will include Bonfire Night.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) began their series of strikes across the capital on Monday at 10am after a dispute over shift changes.
The FBU said it would call off the action immediately if a section 188 clause in their contracts — which firefighters claim effectively sacks them if they don’t agree to shift changes — is removed.
It claims the proposed shift changes will lead to the overall London Fire Brigade being reduced as members quit or are dismissed for not signing the new contracts, leading to some stations being unmanned overnight.
After the eight-hour strike on Monday which is due to be followed by a 47-hour walkout on Friday, the union’s Bexley and Greenwich representative, Steve Rawlinson, said: “On Monday, the nearest cover we had was at the station in the Old Kent Road where Plumstead’s fire engine was taken. The London Fire Brigade claim that they have 27 appliances that they can deploy but they obviously can’t. We did not get any abuse in Bexley. Public sympathy was high. They were tooting their horns and giving them their support.
“If firework organisers are worried about their events, they should cancel them and not put finances ahead of safety.”
When asked why they chose Bonfire Night to strike, he replied: “If Father Christmas was to go on strike, he would do it on Christmas Eve.”
Throughout the capital 27 fire engines responded to 20 incidents, on Monday, including eight fires.
As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review the London Fire Brigade will have to make 25 per cent savings over a four-year period.
London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said: “Firefighters now need to ask their union representatives what this strike is really achieving, and why they cannot reach agreement with us on our revised offer of an 11-hour day and 13-hour night.”
■ The Danson Park fireworks display on Saturday is still going ahead at 8pm after the organisers met with the council, police and representatives from the Fire Brigade.
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