Firefighters to begin industrial action

Overtime ban to begin tomorrow over contracts row

FIREFIGHTERS in Newham are scheduled to begin industrial action short of a strike at 9am tomorrow in a row over new contracts.

Though not expected to affect 999 calls, measures include an overtime ban, withdrawal from voluntary projects and refusal to take on extra duties not within firefighters’ contracts.

The action comes after London Fire Brigade (LFB) gave notice that it could terminate existing contracts if talks on changes to shift patterns failed to produce results.

Danny West, Newham secretary for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said: “This action is about the threat of dismissal.

“It is hard to have talks when you have been threatened with the sack.”

Union members are being balloted over strike action with the result due on October 14.

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Cllr Brian Coleman, chairman of the Fire Authority, which runs the LFB, said: “I expect changes to the way the fire and rescue service is run to generate debate but there is no need for firefighters to lose money by taking strike action that will not resolve this dispute.”

In July, following five years of negotiations, London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson gave union leaders a three-month deadline to come to a deal by giving notice of the possible termination of existing contracts.