Union attacks ‘hokey-cokey’ Fire Authority as they walk into talks then walk out again

Merseyside fire authority walked out of talks today, refusing to agree a date for further meetings. Merseyside fire crews have taken it as a clear signal from the fire authority that they have brought the talks to an end.

A spokesman for the Fire Brigades Union said: “It is difficult to negotiate when faced with a fire authority doing the hokey-cokey at talks. We have not known for several weeks whether they have been in, out or shaking it all about.

“Positive talks on Saturday were a result of both sides showing they were willing to move during negotiations. That went into reverse gear yesterday with the fire authority backtracking in several key areas including axing four fire engines from City Centre stations which they have now removed.

“Clearly something happened after the constructive talks ended on Saturday which hardened the fire authority’s position. We don’t know why they are reneging on what they outlined on Saturday, but they clearly are and now they have walked out completely.”

Les Skarratts, Merseyside FBU Brigade Secretary said: “We’re very disappointed they walked out of the talks today without warning. At first I did not know they had done it until I’d sat in the room for a while and then realised they were not coming back.

“That is very unlike Bill Evans and we can only assume he did this because that was what he had been told to do. I have formally called for the national fire service joint secretaries to become involved to assist in reaching an agreement which is the correct process to follow.

“Many of the issues in this dispute are very specific to the fire service and the national conditions we work under. If we cannot reach agreement at local level then the specialist national fire service negotiators are the only ones who can help resolve some of these issues.

“While Chief Officer McGuirk says he wants no reference to those national fire service negotiators Mr Evans said they would consider it. No new dates have been set for talks despite us requesting them.”

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