sábado, 2 de noviembre de 2013

Striking firefighters denounce recall notice over Dagenham blaze - The Guardian

Striking firefighters taking industrial action with colleagues across England and Wales were at loggerheads with London Fire Brigade (LFB) on Friday evening after it issued a notice recalling them to work to tackle a major blaze at a scrapyard in east London.

About 140 firefighters and 20 fire engines were called out shortly after 3pm to tackle the fire, which had engulfed more than 1,500 tonnes of scrap metal at a scrapyard in Dagenham.

Residents were advised to shut their windows as thick plumes of black smoke filled the air.

The incident raised the stakes in the row over pensions between the government and firefighters, who began their strike at 6.30pm, leaving the LFB to call in contingency crews to fight the Dagenham fire.

London fire commissioner Ron Dobson said the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) breached the agreement by telling firefighters not to break ranks.

"They claim the recall is not valid because there is no risk to life," Dobson said.
"There is no reference to risk of life in the agreed protocols to implement a major incident.

"A major incident can and has been implemented because of the size of this fire and the resources needed to deal with it. By not responding to the recall it is the FBU that is in breach of the agreement."

But FBU London secretary Paul Embery said the recall was not agreed.

"The London Fire Brigade has been giving assurances that their contingencies were sufficient, " he said.

Twenty fire engines and 120 firefighters and officers attended the blaze at the yard in Perry Road, Dagenham.

After the strike ended at 11pm, a spokeswoman for LFB said the situation at Dagenham was under control.

She said: "The strike started at 6.30pm, and when the fire crews left we called in four contingency crews. The strike ended at 11pm, and we have had six crews brought back to the scene. The fire is under control."

The union held a four-hour stoppage last month then called off another strike after it appeared a deal was in sight. But officials said the government and fire employers had failed to offer any firm guarantees on jobs or pensions as a result of changing the pension age from 55 to 60.

The union fears firefighters will be made redundant if they fail fitness tests and are unable to find other work in the fire service.

Brandon Lewis, the fire minister, said: "This strike action by the FBU does nothing but damage the good reputation firefighters have with the public."

"The public will be baffled by the FBU's course of action when they hear that the deal being offered to firefighters gives them one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector."

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