Merseyside fire talks break down

Firefighters, Fire Officers and Emergency Fire Control staff in Merseyside are now set to begin strike action at 0900 hours on Friday 13 July, for a period of eight days after last ditch talks on 10 July broke down.

FBU General Secretary Andy Gilchrist and President Mick Harper both travelled up to Merseyside from London today in an attempt to resolve the dispute prior to any strike action being taken. Unfortunately, the Fire Authority is intent on continuing with the dispute even though the issue has been to the Fire Service National Disputes Panel, who ruled unanimously in favour of the FBU.

In the meeting today the Fire Authority continued to claim that their actions are not out with the decisions of the National Disputes Panel, even though they tried to use this argument in the High Court and withdrew it when it became obvious that they were wrong, at a cost of £60-70,000 to the Merseyside Council Tax payers.

Andy Gilchrist, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union said: “I travelled to Liverpool in good faith in an attempt to resolve this dispute before any strike action is taken by FBU members. The intransigent position of the Chief Fire Officer and the Fire Authority have now made it inevitable that fire cover in Merseyside will be withdrawn for a period of eight days, starting at 0900 hours on Friday 13 July.

"The dispute could be easily resolved if the Fire Authority adhere to the unanimous decisions of the National Fire Service Disputes Panel, the same as every other Fire Authority in the country.”

Les Skarratts, Brigade Secretary Merseyside FBU said: “FBU members in Merseyside are not surprised by the intransigent stance taken by the Chief Fire Officer as we have been dealing with him for nearly two years and he continues to refuse to listen to anyone else’s point of view on every issue. However we are saddened by the stance taken by the Fire Authority in supporting their Chief Fire Officer, who is clearly acting outside of National Conditions of Service. It’s a shame that members of the Fire Authority have shown little regard for public safety or for their employees, the emergency fire control staff, fire officers and firefighters who daily put their lives on the line for the public of Merseyside.”

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