Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue Service is ‘locking out’ firefighters for entire shifts during this week’s industrial action, posing serious questions about public safety, the Fire Brigades Union has said.
Buckinghamshire is the only fire service in the entire country to make the decision, and the FBU says it has lead to significantly reduced fire cover across the county.
Firefighters are striking for eight consecutive days this week in their long-running dispute with central government over attacks on their pensions they say are unfair, unworkable and unaffordable.
Strikes are taking place for two or four hours every day between Monday 14 July and Tuesday 22 July: 32 hours in total as the union attempts to minimise disruption to union members and the public.
However, Buckinghamshire firefighters will be locked out for a total of 175 hours during the period: five and a half times longer than necessary.
In a recent letter to the local fire authority, Mark Jones, chief fire officer said that “the decision to no longer accept partial performance of shifts was taken to minimise the service’s losses.”
Steve Allen, FBU chair for the union’s southern region, said: “This wholly unnecessary decision will directly impact upon the safety of the public in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.
“It is a vindictive action by an employer to punish their local firefighters for participating in lawful strike action.
“We’re appealing to the fire authority and Mr Jones himself to apply common sense and let firefighters do their job.”
Guidance from the National Fire and Rescue Service Employers has advised fire and rescue services to allow firefighters to work and be paid for the rest of their shifts.