ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - July 20, 2012) - Just a week before the Olympics open, the Essex Chief Fire Officer is threatening to stand down his own fire crews during Olympic events. Fire crews say this is a blatant attempt by the chief to disrupt the Olympics and shift the blame onto his own firefighters.
The union has lawfully called a number of short strikes thinly spread out over several months in their long-running dispute over the worst cuts to frontline 999 services in living memory and other imposed changes. The union's lawful three hour strike on 26 July is carefully planned to end BEFORE the Olympics start, so as not to disrupt them. Another lawful three hour strike has been called to start AFTER the Olympic mountain bike event in Essex on 11th August, so as not to disrupt that event. But Essex Chief Fire Officer David Johnson has threatened to stand down firefighters rather than providing for them to return to work for the rest of their shift at the end of the strike. Mr. Johnson's decision would disrupt normal, professional 999 cover during the Essex mountain bike event.
Adrian Clarke, Regional Secretary:
"It's bizarre and wholly irresponsible. In his desperation to punish Essex fire crews the chief is preparing to deny the people of Essex their normal, professional 999 service for four times longer than he needs to, and to extend the stoppage of work into the period of the Olympic Games. His only reason for doing this is so he can stop 24 hours worth of pay from striking firefighters despite the lawful short, sharp strikes lasting only six-hours.
"He's playing Russian Roulette with the public and businesses of Essex. They've paid their taxes for their fire service and they have every right to expect the normal, professional 999 service to return at the end of the short, lawful strike periods. Serious questions are bound to be asked if someone or some business suffers as a result of a 999 emergency during any period that the chief has chosen to remove the normal, professional service lawfully available before and after the short, sharp strikes lawfully called by the union."
The union is offering to cancel some strikes if the chief fire officer confirms that firefighters' pay will only be stopped for those periods of lawful strike actually taken.
The union has also called lawful '999-calls-only' action on the dates of the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. This action also avoids any disruption to 999 services during the ceremonies as all Essex frontline fire crews would remain available to respond to all emergency 999 calls. But the union says the chief fire officer is also considering effectively turning these into full strikes by stopping the pay of fire crews for any "partial performance" of duties, ie refuse to pay crews even when they are not on strike.
'The lawful industrial action announced by the union includes:
|26th July 2012 14.00 - 17.00 (3 hours) and 19.00 - 22.00 (3 hours) - strike action.
|27th July 2012 18.00 - 28th July 2012 09.00 - carrying out no duties other than responding to 999 calls only
|11th August 2012 14.30 - 17.30 (3 hours) and 21.00 - 24.00 (3 hours) - strike action
|12th August 2012 09.00 - 13th August 2012 06.00 - carrying out no duties other than responding to 999 calls only
|5th September 2012 09.00 - 13.00 - strike action
|18th October 2012 11.00 - 16:00 - strike action'