London firefighters have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over changes to shift patterns, and have decided to begin their campaign with two eight hour strikes.
The first action will begin on 10am on Saturday 23 October and the second will be from 10am on Monday 1 November
The FBU had said in a statement on Thursday: ‘London firefighters have voted by 3,482 to 943 to take strike action unless London Fire Brigade Commissioner Ron Dobson withdraws his letter of 11 August which began the legal process of sacking the capital’s 5,557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters.
‘The majority was 79 per cent and the turnout was 79 per cent.’
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: ‘This is a huge vote for strike action.
‘Firefighters hate going on strike – but they hate being bullied even more.
‘This vote demonstrates that London firefighters will fight these mass sackings every step of the way.
‘The London Fire Brigade now needs to lift the sacking notices and start negotiating properly.
‘I hope that even at this late stage, Ron Dobson will do the sensible thing, so that we can get round a table with him and sort out our differences over shift patterns without a gun being held to our heads.’
The union held off announcing strike dates for 24 hours in order to give the London Fire Brigade a last chance ‘to do the sensible thing and withdraw the letters of dismissal so we can return to negotiating on the question of shift patterns,’ said FBU executive member for London, Ian Leahair.
With no word from the London Fire Brigade, the regional committee met yesterday to set the dates for the first strikes.
London firefighters had been taking industrial action short of a strike, including an overtime ban and a ban on ‘acting up’, since Friday 24 September.
In a circular, Wrack informed branches: ‘Please note that the result of the ballot as to whether members of the FBU are prepared to take part in industrial action consisting of a strike in relation to the above dispute is as follows:
‘Number of votes cast in the ballot: 4,431
‘Number of individuals answering “yes”: 3,482
‘Number of individuals answering “no”: 943
‘Number of spoiled voting papers: six
‘A majority voted in favour of strike action.’