Firefighters have recommenced an industrial dispute with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) after the Chief Fire Officer refused to rule out frontline cuts.
The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) began a dispute back in June 2009 when 44 firefighters were axed and changes were made to the way specialist appliances were crewed.
Negotiations between the FBU and ECFRS began in April this year, and industrial action was suspended. An agreement was reached in July, which ignored the 44 job losses but protected against any further cuts.
However, in a meeting at the end of July when the agreement was due to be signed, the Chief Fire Officer retracted the agreed document and added an extra clause saying that no guarantees could be made in the current economic climate.
He refused to sign the agreed settlement until after the Comprehensive Spending Review announced on 20 October.
The FBU officially re-ignited the dispute beginning on 20 September, including an overtime ban and a refusal to cover staff shortages.
Essex firefighters have set a lead for other unions to follow by refusing to accept that cuts to frontline services need to be made ahead of the Tory attacks next month.
However, the union has conceded too much by accepting earlier job losses and by offering alongside Unison to work with ECFRS to find savings in so-called “desirable projects”.
All unions should reject any government cuts, forced upon the working class to pay for a crisis made by bankers.