Merseyside fire crews expect ‘yes’ vote in strike ballot over loss of one in ten fire fighters and cuts to fire engines
Merseyside fire crews are expecting a ‘yes’ vote in their strike ballot which is set to close on Monday 21 August. They anticipate being able to announce the result around 4pm on the day when they can also give 7 day’s notice of strike action.
Local fire crews are balloting over plans to cut 120 emergency response firefighter posts – one in ten of the workforce - 15 emergency fire control operator posts and axe four fire engines at night time. There will be fewer rescue appliances, fewer firefighters on fire engines and a longer wait for crews to arrive to all 999 emergencies.
The loss of one in ten fulltime firefighter posts – in addition to the 68 posts lost last year - will inevitably damage the overall operational capability of the Merseyside fire and rescue service. Fire crews say this will clearly compromise their safety and the safety of the public.
Les Skarratts, Merseyside FBU secretary said: “The loss of one in ten full time posts – on top of the 68 lost last year –will impact on our safety and the safety of the public. There would be fewer frontline firefighters taking longer to get to emergencies with less rescue equipment available.
“Fire crews could be left at incidents either standing back and doing nothing until more support arrives and risking the public, or ignoring basic safety procedures and risking themselves. Merseyside fire crews do not want to take industrial action but we do expect a ‘yes’ vote because of the savage cuts we are faced with.
“The public consultation is a charade because the chief officer says he has already implemented the job losses. Senior managers are confident they can scare councillors into backing these panic measures but they will not frighten us into giving in to them.
“We are prepared to have talks at any time. If councillors and senior managers want to have genuine negotiations then this needs to happen as a matter of urgency.”