Fire Brigades Union chief launches fresh attack on strike regulations

A union leader has launched a fresh attack on moves to ensure a set level of service during strikes in the fire service, saying they have “bemused” firefighters.

New rules have been announced aimed at ensuring fire and rescue services are crewed by 73% of fire engines during strikes.

The fire brigade will also be expected to attend all emergencies as usual, even during a strike period.

The regulation will be enforced once a union has informed a fire service that it intends to strike, and the employer takes action.

The Government said the move will ensure the public are protected from the “dangerous impact“ of striking fire and rescue service staff.

TUC Conference 2017
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“This is a direct attack on the democratic rights of firefighters, control room staff and other fire service workers.

“These rules will baffle anyone who has worked in the fire sector. Firefighters will be left bemused by the threat that 73% of fire engines must be crewed during any strike action.

“A decade of cuts has left many fire engines sitting empty in stations every day.”

He added: “The Government has refused to fund the fire and rescue service adequately, leaving fire stations closed, fire engines axed, and one in five firefighter jobs slashed.

“Conservative politicians have consistently ignored firefighters’ warnings that under-resourcing is putting lives at risk.

“This cynical attempt to attack firefighters’ pay and conditions reeks of hypocrisy and will do nothing for public safety.”

Crime, Policing and Fire Minister Chris Philp said: “Fire and rescue services play a critical role in society and protect the public in emergencies, and we must ensure this is maintained during periods of industrial action.

“While it is right that workers have the ability to strike, this must not come at the cost of public safety. The new minimum service level for fire and rescue will help save lives.”

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