Fire Strike threat goes up in flames


Wimbledon Fire Brigade vow to continue their fight against contract changes despite abandoning the Bonfire weekend strike.

Staff at the Kingston Road station supported the Fire Brigade Union’s (FBU) decision to call off the strike, due to take place November 5-7, but say the dispute is far from over.

Justin Coo, Station Manager, said: “From my own personal point of view I am not happy the strike was called off but I have to look at the big picture and in the interests of public safety this is the right decision.”

An arbitration period now begins where the FBU and London Fire Brigade (LFB) will once again attempt to reach agreement over new contracts, including shift changes.

An Officers’ Representative for the South West Area said the proposal to extend the daytime shift from nine hours to 12 did not make any sense.

He said most of the force’s work, such as training and fitting smoke alarms, must be done before 6pm.

In the past when they tried to train in the evenings they received noise complaints from residents.

When asked whether he thought anything was achieved by the October 23 and November 1 strikes, Mr Coo said: “We certainly got into the public domain the issue of fire service cuts and how that is going to affect public safety.”

Expected job losses in London include 30 officers. Mr Coo was unable to say how many would be from the Wimbledon station but he believes all his employees are at risk.

He said: “The only way they can make the savings is to cut staff.”

The dispute will also have a lasting impact on FBU-LFB relations.

The Officers Representative said: “A lot of the good-will towards management has gone. This will take a long time to recover from.”

Many staff criticised Brian Coleman, chairman of the London Fire Authority, for his ‘corrosive input’.

One officer said: “He is not a natural bridge builder and puts his political interest ahead of the public’s.”

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