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Fire dispute: both sides need to settle their differences before this weekend
02/11/2010 07:29:00

Yesterday saw the second day of industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union. The dispute has its roots in proposed changes to shift start and finish times which have been mooted for a number of years and would allow more time to be spent on fire safety training. They ought to be relatively uncontroversial - similar changes have been implemented in other parts of the country and have proved popular with firefighters. But for some reason no agreement has been reached in London and the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) has now threatened to dismiss firefighters and re-employ them on the new terms and conditions. It is this action that has really incensed the firefighters who have contacted me.

The next proposed strike is over the Bonfire Night weekend from Friday morning to Sunday morning. I have the greatest respect for the courage of the men and women who work for the fire service but, whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of this dispute, they are wrong to strike over this weekend (and the Croydon Labour Party is wrong to be supporting them on its Twitter page - and out of step with the Labour leadership nationally). They are putting people's safety at risk - on 5th November last year, the London Fire Brigade received 680 calls, nearly three times the normal daily rate.

Both sides need to get around a table this week and settle their differences.

UPDATE: Delighted to learn that common sense has prevailed and this weekend's strike has been called off. Credit to the FBU for seeing sense.

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Readers' Comments

On 04/11/2010 11:02:00 Carolyne Smith wrote:
I am sure that the circumstances relating to the working pattern shift must be much more complicated than you suggest as I cannot imagine that the Firefighters take this decision lightly. If the changes are so inconsequential then why are they being threatened with the sack if they don’t comply? Perhaps you should consider looking into their reasons more thoroughly before condemning them for action that I am convinced as a last resort they have elected to take.

On 04/11/2010 17:25:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
I didnt even know the Croydon Labour Party had a Twitter Page... but then I forgot absolutely everyone is on twitter these days. Even Royal Mail is on Twitter. How mad is that? Why? No wonder there's always such a long queue at the post office, they're all busy showcasing their wittiest new one liners on Twitter. I mean exactly what kind of witty banter in less than 140 charecters does Royal Mail have to tweet to convince me to send something via snail mail? Someone should tell them they're not Stephen Fry.

I love twitter - before twitter it was really hard for comedians. In the old days you really had to read the newspapers back to back laboriously to find unguarded political comments.

Thanks to twitter professional politicians and their partners put their foot in it publically all the time again... it's like Christmas every day.

Talking of which I see you've made the Daily Mail


I cant remember now if there were actually power cuts during the The Winter of Discontent but I expect there were although it is a matter of some debate between

http://www.conservapedia.com and http://en.wikipedia.org

Sadly as I was only 5 at the time I neglected to store any primary source historical material..

Anyway, to return to the point it would be totally mad for the Fire Brigades Union to strike Bonfire night - all their moral arguements would go up in smoke - but hopefully it is just posturing.

On 25/11/2010 18:06:00 Gavin Barwell wrote:

If you re-read my original post, you will see that I specifically say that it is the threat to dismiss firefighters, not the proposed changes to shift start and finish times, that has led to this industrial action. The firefighters I have spoken to have some concerns about the proposed changes to shift times in terms of impact on family life but they believe a compromise could easily be reached on this issue.




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