999 Fire Control operators in Essex have completed the first of the eight days of strike action as senior managers continue to ignore cost-neutral alternatives that could avert the industrial action.
Taking place from 10 – 18 March the strike has been called over imposed shift changes which have resulted in some emergency control operators having to leave their jobs or drastically reduce their hours and pay, with many more considering their future with the service.
The current strike action has coincided with news that the chief fire officer, David Johnson, is set to return to duty following a period of absence.
Alan Chinn-Shaw, secretary of the FBU in Essex, said: “The chief fire officer’s return is an opportunity for a fresh pair of eyes to look at the serious problems in the emergency fire control room.
“He should also lend a sympathetic ear to the genuine concerns of his professional control staff who are finding the new shift system intolerable. We are hopeful the chief’s return could provide the catalyst for meaningful negotiations.”
“The picket line has been strong all day and the response from the public has been fantastic.
“No one here wants to be on strike but senior managers have forced this action with their intransigent approach and refusal to negotiate. They need to come to the negotiating table to resolve this dispute.”