Merseyside fire service strike ballot begins

Following two phenomenal mass meetings in Merseyside yesterday (30 May 2001), in which 1,000 members unanimously called for a strike ballot, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has notified the Merseyside Fire Authority of its intention to ballot its members for strike action.

The dispute is over the refusal of the Chief Fire Officer and the Fire Authority to adhere to National Conditions of Service and their decision to ignore the National Disputes Committee.

The specific points are:

1. In relation to all disputes registered under national conditions of service to fully and immediately comply with status quo as specifically required by national conditions of service, not as re-interpreted by CFO Saunders and/or the Authority. In particular to ensure that no steps whatsoever are taken by the fire authority to implement the decision under dispute.

2. In relation to all disputes determined by the NJC Disputes Committee under national conditions of service to fully and immediately comply with the decision reached.

3. To formally accept that the decision of the Corporate Management Team of the Authority including CFO Saunders is outside and in breach of national conditions of service. To immediately and unequivocally condemn and repudiate that decision and the conduct of the Corporate Management Team including CFO Saunders in blatantly disregarding the unanimous decision of the NJC Disputes Committee; AND

4. To immediately comply in full with the decision of the NJC Disputes Committee on 3 May 2001 and forthwith discontinue the assessment and processing of the applications from non-uniformed personnel.

Andy Gilchrist, General Secretary, said:

“FBU members have been honorable throughout this dispute. We have followed all local and national agreements and dispute procedures to the letter; unfortunately, this is not the case with Chief Fire Officer Malcolm Saunders and the Merseyside Fire Authority who have continually ignored procedures and agreements.

The Fire Authority have sent us a response to the trade dispute, which failed dismally to address the four issues. FBU members are demanding clear and unequivocal assurances in respect of the four points in dispute, otherwise we have no option other than to continue with our ballot for strike action.”

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