Firefighters claim victory as seven-week strike ends

PUBLISHED: 15:52 07 October 2009 | UPDATED: 11:42 12 August 2010

FIREFIGHTERS have ended industrial action which put lives at risk for more than seven weeks. Fire Brigade Union (FBU) chiefs said it had achieved a decent victory and its members had shown courage and strength throughout the dispute which began on

FIREFIGHTERS have ended industrial action which put lives at risk for more than seven weeks.

Fire Brigade Union (FBU) chiefs said it had achieved a 'decent victory' and its members had shown 'courage and strength' throughout the dispute which began on August 13 and ended last Wednesday.

There was a long list of issues which the LFB and FBU were at loggerheads over which included the way allowances for subsistence and travel are paid, booking leave and random testing for drugs and alcohol which have all been resolved for the time being.

Crews from across London had locked horns with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) over working conditions and decided to abandon all voluntary duties.

This meant in some cases fire engines were 'off the run' taking them out of action completely, reducing the service and putting lives at risk.

FBU Bromley borough representative, Mark Freeman, said there were at least two occasions when Beckenham and Bromley stations' appliances were out of action.

The situation came about as firefighters can voluntarily opt to take a temporary promotion to the next level, which is known as 'acting up'.

It is used to fill gaps for more senior roles and at any one time there can be hundreds of fire fighters acting up.

When the FBU moved to abandon all voluntary temporary promotions it left a shortfall in the minimum number of staff qualified to man fire engines.

Mr Freeman said: "We are pleased that the action is over. The next stage we had planned could have meant half the service was out of action but fortunately that hasn't happened. There is a strong belief within the fire service that we are helping the community by doing our bit so we don't like taking action. On this occasion our members voted 90 per cent in favour of action which is quite emphatic."

A letter sent out to members last Friday read: "We did not take industrial action lightly. But, when it commenced, our members held firm throughout. There is no doubt that brigade managers were rocked by the magnificent show of unity displayed by our members.

"By simply withdrawing our goodwill, we made it virtually impossible for brigade managers to run the service in the way they had taken for granted for so many years. This is why the brigade was eventually forced back to the table, having declared previously that they would not speak to the union while the industrial action was ongoing."

A spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade said: "Industrial action short of a strike taken by Fire Brigade Union members officially ended on September 30.

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