Firefighters in Surrey vote for festive action

Friday 13th December 2019 9:00 am
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Firefighters protested outside Surrey County Hall in September ()

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Firefighters in Surrey have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action short of strike, beginning on Christmas Eve and running for six months.

A decisive 94 per cent voted in favour of action, with 72 per cent of Surrey Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members turning out – far exceeding the thresholds needed to hold industrial action.

The union says the ballot only comes after “exhausting all other avenues of fighting dangerous cuts” to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), and in particular cuts to night-time cover.

But SFRS has expressed its “disappointment” at the FBU’s actions, “given the efforts being made...to establish a resolution to the current trade dispute”.

The action short of strike will include a ban on overtime, on which the FBU says SFRS has become “dependent”, as well as a refusal to stand in for “understaffed” senior roles and a refusal to use non-operational vehicles.

Lee Belsten, FBU Surrey brigade secretary, said: “Underfunding has become endemic in SFRS, with bosses depending on the goodwill of firefighters in a failed attempt to meet basic standards. Our goodwill has run dry.”

A SFRS spokesman reassured residents that it will “continue to respond to emergencies and do everything we can to keep people safe”– but added overtime is at an “all-time low”, and it does do not expect the industrial action “to have a significant impact”.

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