Fire Talks Breakdown!

Firefighters marching in London last month against the threat of mass sackings
Firefighters marching in London last month against the threat of mass sackings

‘The strikes on November 1st and November 5th will go ahead,’ Fire Brigades Union (FBU) London Region Official Paul Embery told News Line yesterday.

He was speaking after talks aimed at averting a 47-hour strike commencing on Bonfire Night had broken down.

Embery said: ‘We arrived at London Fire Brigade HQ at 9am having been invited by the chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), Brian Coleman to talks.

‘Brian Coleman failed to show.

‘The Brigade representative who we spoke to had nothing new to tell us, so it appears to have been a complete waste of time and the strikes will go ahead as planned.’

FBU London regional organiser Ben Sprung added: ‘The Fire Authority are not willing to compromise.

‘We have put forward several proposals that would meet their targets.

‘But what they are offering would put the public at risk.’

FBU Executive Council Member for London, Ian Leahair said: ‘It’s dreadfully disappointing that after four hours there was still no sign of Brian Coleman or the Chief Fire Officer, Ron Dobson.

‘Regrettably, the brigade representatives in attendance had nothing new to say to us.

‘Where was Councillor Coleman at 9.00am, having said on national TV last night that he would be here in talks with us?

‘He is not treating this issue with the seriousness that firefighters and Londoners expect of the leader of the LFEPA.

‘The LFEPA proposals on new working hours would seriously disrupt firefighters’ family lives and lead to cuts in fire cover.

‘All the same, the LFEPA does not have to reach agreement with us on shifts to get us to call off the strikes.

‘They just have to withdraw the sacking notices that were sent out on August 11th.

‘Our message is that we will cancel all planned strikes if the brigade agrees to lift the mass sackings.

‘We can then negotiate a fair settlement as equal parties.

‘It’s just very disappointing that the fire authority is treating the union with contempt at the moment by paying lip service to negotiations.’

Following the FBU announcement of the November 5th 47-hour strike on Monday, Labour leader Ed Miliband joined prime minister Cameron in calling the move ‘irresponsible’.