Firefighters in Suffolk were angry yesterday as the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces set out to break their strike actions against plans to axe twelve frontline firefighters and a turntable ladder appliance.
The Ministry of Defence is now being paid £50,000 a day by Suffolk County Council for strike breaking activities.
Troops are using MoD red fire engines, plus red fire engines from Fire Service training centres.
Suffolk Fire Brigades Union (FBU) Brigade Secretary Adrian Mayhew told News Line yesterday: ‘Today’s strike has been 100 per cent solid.
‘Members are angry over penny pinching by the County Council and they are not having it.
‘We have just 45 full-time firefighters at any one time to cover 675,000 people.
‘Our concern is twelve front-line firefighter posts are being scrapped, which will affect the public and firefighters’ safety.
‘This is about cuts not safety, as the Fire Authority makes out.
‘Council tax is going up in Suffolk but the public will be getting less of a fire service.
‘The cost of the strike would be a fraction of what the County Council is prepared to pay the military for strike fire cover.
‘They are paying £50,000 a day to the military and MoD.
‘Yet the County Council could settle this dispute today if they had the will.’
There will be a two-hour strike on Friday from 5pm to 7pm, following yesterday’s three-hour strike from 7am to 10am.
Suffolk FBU also named two new strike dates on Monday 8th August for three hours from 7am to 10am and three hours on Thursday 11th August from 4pm to 7pm.
Suffolk FBU have also called a national demonstration from 2pm to 4pm on Friday 11th August, to coincide with a planned Joint Consultative Committee meeting.
Eastern and East Anglia FBU Regional Secretary Graham Noakes told News Line yesterday: ‘The national demonstration will be well supported. Delegations are coming from all over the country.
Noakes confirmed: ‘The military has some red fire engines manned by RAF and Navy personnel based at four TA centres in Suffolk.
‘They have armed soldiers guarding the centres, as they did the Green Goddesses during the national strike.
‘The Authority are prepared to spend more money to break the strikes than settling the dispute, which is their perverse economic reasoning.’
• Second News Line News article
FRANCE THREATENS IRAN WITH ‘RETRIBUTION’
France yesterday warned Iran that its decision to resume nuclear activities may spark ‘a major international crisis’ and a forceful response from the UN Security Council.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Jacques Chirac: ‘The Iran matter seems very serious to me.
‘It may trigger a major international crisis because, if Iran doesn’t go back on its decision, then Iran will be, I would say, in a purely unilateral position.’
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin warned that Iran must abide by a deal with the EU to suspend its nuclear programme or face UN Security Council retribution.
Before entering the cabinet meeting, Villepin said: ‘Iran must honour the commitments it has made.
‘These commitments are commitments suspending all activity, conversion, treatment and enrichment of uranium.’
He said that if Tehran refuses, ‘the international community will be forced to draw conclusions’ adding ‘with consensus, with dialogue. And the Security Council will be called on if Iran refuses to comply.’
Iran on Monday told the International Atomic Energy Agency, that it would imminently resume uranium ore conversion, the precursor to enrichment in the nuclear fuel cycle.
France said the resumption was in breach of a deal with itself, Britain and Germany under which Tehran agreed to suspend its nuclear activities in return for trade benefits.
The United States has been accusing Iran of wanting to use its nuclear programme to build nuclear weapons.