Merseyside firefighters threaten strike action over job cuts and union official sacking

Firefighters in Merseyside will be balloted for strike action in a week’s time unless the fire authority meets the union’s demands.

The Merseyside Fire Brigade Union (FBU) is calling for a sacked union official to be reinstated and for a cuts package – including the loss of 68 jobs – to be withdrawn.

The cuts are aimed at saving £5m following a reduction in government funding for the fire service.

Bill Evans, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s industrial relations negotiator, told the BBC the union’s decision was “particularly disappointing”.

He said: “While I’m committed to conciliation talks, I think this latest move by the FBU demonstrates that they, perhaps, are not.”

Les Skarratts, Merseyside FBU brigade secretary, said: “These are real cuts to the number of front-line firefighters in Merseyside which will impact on how we respond to 999 emergencies. It will mean fewer firefighters spread more thinly taking longer to get to incidents.

“The local fire crews have had enough, but all we are doing is responding to the aggressive actions of the fire authority, which includes sacking [union official] Kevin Hughes.”

Hundreds of firefighters at the South Yorkshire Fire Authority took industrial action last week in a row over changes to shift patterns.

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