National fire talks break down - Merseyside fire strike to go ahead

The planned eight-day fire strike in Merseyside for Friday 13 July looks almost certain to go ahead as the National Employers have agreed to ignore the fact that Merseyside Fire Authority is acting against a decision at the Disputes Panel on 3 May 2001.

The National Fire Service Employers made the following statement today, after five hours of talks with the Fire Brigades Union: “The Employers are fully committed to the procedures and constitution of the National Joint Council and the decision of the Disputes Panel on 3rd May 2001”.

However they stopped short of condemning the Merseyside Fire Authority, who are blatantly ignoring the unanimous decision of that Panel. The Employers offered the Fire Brigades Union arbitration or mediation in this dispute; we believe this to be an insult to FBU members in Merseyside who have already taken the issue through the nationally agreed Disputes Procedure in the Fire Service and they won unanimously.

FBU General Secretary Andy Gilchrist said: “The ball is now firmly in the court of Merseyside Fire Authority; unless they respond positively to our members’ demands, the 8 day fire strike in Merseyside will start at 0900 hours on Friday 13th July. The total inaction of the National Fire Service Employers could potentially turn this in to a very serious national dispute. Merseyside FBU members already have the full support of the National Union, a fact that will be proven on Friday (13 July) when Firefighters, Fire Officers and Emergency Fire Control staff from all over the country will be marching through Liverpool in support of their Brothers and Sisters in Merseyside.

"It is still not too late to end this dispute before any action is taken, but I feel that the intransigent stance taken by the Chief Fire Officer and Merseyside Fire Authority make it almost inevitable that the strike will go ahead.”

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