Herts FBU Striking Against Massive Cuts!

Firefighters who tackled the Buncefied blaze picketing 10 Downing Street against plans to severely cut the Herts fire service
Firefighters who tackled the Buncefied blaze picketing 10 Downing Street against plans to severely cut the Herts fire service

Hertfordshire fire crews are today striking from 2pm to 10pm against cuts in frontline personnel and fire stations.

Hertfordshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has also set two more eight-hour strikes, from 14.00 to 22.00 on Friday 26 May and Wednesday 31 May.

It was confirmed last Thursday night that Hertfordshire county council has rejected a fully-costed compromise deal offered by fire crews which could have achieved the council’s financial aims whilst avoiding their preferred frontline cuts of fire station closures and reductions in frontline firefighters.

Genuine efficiency savings were set out by fire crews over a week ago that would not have closed any fire stations.

Hertfordshire FBU said yesterday: ‘Not surprisingly, the council’s own proposals – to still close Radlett and Bovingdon fire stations; hang redundancy notices over the heads of the 23 firefighters that serve there; and axe a further 16 Firefighters from Watford, Stevenage, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans – were overwhelmingly rejected by fire crews across the county last night although senior managers were informed on Monday 15 May that this was by far the most likely outcome given the remaining frontline cuts.’

Tony Smith, FBU Hertfordshire vice-chair said: ‘Our own proposals would have seen significant efficiency savings but not cuts on the scale the council were seeking and with none of the station closures.

‘Our proposals included genuine efficiency savings, not simply hacking back on our 999 response.

‘In comparison, the council’s proposals were far too little, far too late with the major cuts and closures remaining.

‘Fire crews do not want to take any strike action, we are open to further talks, but we will not sit back while our service is under threat and public safety and our own safety put at long-term risk.

‘The cuts and closures would leave fewer firefighters taking longer to get to incidents which will affect our ability to deal with emergencies.

‘Back-up crews would also take longer which will also impact on safety.

‘Firefighters could be left in the impossible position of either standing back and doing nothing until the necessary resources arrive and risking the public, or ignoring basic safety procedures and risking ourselves.

‘Fire crews have a legitimate concern and strong view on this and we are prepared to take lawful strike action as a result.

‘Our lawful strike will only have a short-term impact compared to the long-term impact of the cuts we are facing.’