FBU Angry Over Cuts

London fire service staff outside City Hall yesterday to demand the withdrawal of threatened cuts
London fire service staff outside City Hall yesterday to demand the withdrawal of threatened cuts

FIREFIGHTERS joined members of Unison and GMB trade unions yesterday in an angry lobby of a London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) meeting at City Hall.

A draft budget was to be presented to the meeting making ‘15 per cent savings’.

LFEPA workers are also angry that over 60 jobs will go in budget proposals to cut authority support services.

The unions say there will be strike action if LFEPA should impose the cuts, which includes axing the London Fire Brigade museum, library and photographic service.

Ian Leahair, acting FBU Region 10 EC member, told the lobby that the FBU ‘stands with Unison and GMB in opposing these cuts’.

Charles Adje, GMB Staff Side branch chair, told protestors that the proposals ‘go against the point made by the authority that it wants to increase equality and diversity.

‘How can that be when 33 per cent of LFEPA staff are from black and ethnic backgrounds?’

Unison member Lucy Ward said that the cuts also included scrapping Life-long Learning reps, and also the only Money Advisory post, which is based at the authority’s HQ.

‘Firefighters are under enough stress as it is, and in the present economic climate it’s ridiculous to expect them to rely on already over-stretched advice services such as CABs,’ she told News Line.

Linda Smith, FBU branch secretary at Wandsworth station added to News Line: ‘FBU members will continue supporting the GMB and Unison members against cuts to non uniform staff.

‘These cuts will have a direct impact on firefighters doing their jobs,’ said Smith.

Despite the museum attracting 6,000 visitors a year, many of whom are schoolchildren, Authority Chairman Brian Coleman declared it was ‘not fit for purpose’, adding ‘once you have seen one brass helmet, you have seen them all’.

A GMB member, who wanted to remain anonymous because of alleged threats from authority management, claimed that management had sent intimidating e-mails to stop staff attending yesterday’s lobby.

‘They didn’t consult with our trade unions and this is a clear breach of the 1992 Trade Union Labour Relations Act.

‘It wasn’t until the 30th September that the unions and their members heard for the first time of redundancies and job cuts.

‘We suspect management have been planning this for over two months.

‘The authority’s original proposal was for £7.7 million cuts, but now we hear councillor Coleman wants another £1.5 million on top of that.’