Frontline firefighters may strike
PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 September 2011
FRONTLINE firefighters across North Somerset may go on strike as part of a nationwide pension dispute with the Government.
The Mercury understands union members from Avon Fire and Rescue may take to the picket lines in November in a dispute over public sector pension cuts.
If members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) do decide to strike, it could see both firefighters and the service’s support workers join public sector workers from a variety of different unions in doing so on November 30.
The last time firefighters took part in a national strike was in 2003, when military Green Goddess vehicles were used as cover. However, the ageing military vehicles have since been taken out of service, raising the prospect of there being no cover should firefighters go on strike.
Tim Marter, a member of Avon Fire Authority, the service’s supervisory body, said: “If members wish to strike then that is fine as it is their right to do so, but the problem is that this leaves us with the possibility that the force’s ability to deal with fires may be seriously diminished.
“If it were just support staff who were going on strike then that is something that could be covered, but frontline firefighters doing so as well may leave our resources a bit stretched – we must look at all the options to cover this possibility.
“Perhaps, like last time, they may set up their picket lines outside the stations, so that if an emergency does happen, they will able to go out to attend to it.”
Chris Taylor, the chairman of the Avon branch of the FBU, declined to comment, but said union members had not yet been balloted for strike action.
A spokesman for Avon Fire and Rescue said: “We can confirm that the FBU has registered a trade dispute with the Department of Communities and Local Government over the issue of pension reform proposals.
“A formal trade dispute has also been registered with Avon Fire Authority.
“Our understanding at this time is that scheme-specific negotiations are ongoing between central Government and the trade unions.
“At this stage there is no indication that the union is going to ballot its members for strike action and it would therefore be premature to speculate on the potential outcome of any negotiations until they have been completed.”