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.