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Navin's News: Fire Brigade Strike

Fire Brigades Union Endorse New Shift Patterns

On 14 January the Fire Brigade Union’s London Regional Committee endorsed a deal based on a collective agreement for changes to firefighters’ shift pattern.

Some outstanding issues between the Union and LFEPA however remain unresolved. These disputes which relate to the details of the terms of agreement for shift pattern changes could prove to be stumbling block for lifting of the current strike action by firefighters. Unless the strike action is formally lifted by the FBU, the 27 fire engines currently in the possession of private contractor, AssetCo, cannot be moved back to local fire stations.  

Navin Shah AM, Leader of LFEPA’s Labour Group said:

“I’m delighted that the FBU has now endorsed deal for a collective agreement.  This is a move in the right direction and should bring an end to the long and damaging dispute.  Unfortunately until the remaining issues are resolved and the FBU withdraws its strike action the fire engines taken away from fire stations across London cannot be moved back.” 

“I urge both the FBU and officers to act swiftly to resolve the issues.  The safety of Londoners is paramount and I want to see the return of local fire engines without any further delay. “

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17th January 2011

New Shift Changes For Firefighters: Navin Shah AM welcomes an end to the dispute

Today’s meeting of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority saw London saved from further strike action by London’s firefighters.  At a specially-convened meeting of the Authority, new shift patterns for London’s firefighters were agreed subject to endorsement by the FBU’s London Regional Committee meeting tomorrow.

Speaking after the meeting, Labour's Leader on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Navin Shah said:

“This is the best news Londoners have had against all expectations and I welcome the commitment of the FBU in signing up to the shift changes.”

“Our tabled Amendment, supported by all the opposition groups, to bring a further report on the negotiations as planned to the Authority meeting on 27 January would have allowed our Commissioner, Ron Dobson, to negotiate a collective settlement at the earliest opportunity.  It is scandalous that the Amendment was voted down purely for party political reasons by the Conservatives.  Throughout the industrial dispute Brian Coleman’s conduct has been disgraceful but I hope the Authority will recover from the damage he has caused to its reputation. ”

“The Labour Group has said all along that a negotiated settlement is the only way forward and I am delighted we now have reached a scenario where the threat of imposing new contracts on our firefighters by confrontational Chairman Brian Coleman and his Conservative Group has been lifted. I very much hope that the union’s London Regional Committee agrees this at its meeting tomorrow and Londoners can look forward to getting back their missing 27 fire engines without further delay.”  

 

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13th November 2010

Shah hits out at fire engine cuts plan

In The HA1

The London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent has hit out at a plan to look at reducing the number of fire engines serving the capital.

Navin Shah said London Fire Authority (LFA) Chair Brian Coleman had gone back on his word over the possibility of cuts to the service.

Mr Coleman said the LFA should look into reducing the number of fire engines to help save money, after just 27 were used to cover the recent strike action.

He also cited a ban on overtime as a sign that changes could be made, saying: “We are really grateful to the FBU for showing us that there are possible efficiencies.

“The union has banned overtime for two to three months and London doesn’t seem to have come to a halt.”

Mr Shah, who is the Labour leader on the London Fire Emergency Planning Authority, said the decision was poorly timed and reneged on previous commitments.

He said: “Councillor Coleman gave a public assurance last week that he would not be cutting fire engines, firefighters or fire stations.

“At this sensitive time when we are trying to settle the dispute, Coleman can’t even wait until the ink is dry before he’s talking about more cuts.”

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10th November 2010

Navin Shah blames Mayor of London Boris Johnson for firefighter's strike

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A LABOUR member of the fire authority has blamed Boris Johnson for a planned strike.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted in favour of the walk-out by more than three to one after a ballot yesterday and will set dates this afternoon.

The industrial action follows a row over contracts to extend day shifts and shorten night shifts.

Firefighters will not be doing any more hours than they are now but say the changes will stop them from seeing their families.

Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, placed the blame for the dispute firmly with Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Brian Coleman, head of fire authority the LFEPA.

He said: “No-one wants this strike, least of all Londoners. It is because of the aggressive, confrontational way the Conservatives have gone about trying to force through these changes that we find ourselves in a situation that could have been avoided.

“Boris Johnson and his Conservative chair of the Fire Authority have been spoiling for a fight with the union, rather than showing the leadership and fostering the good relations that would have best served Londoners.

“They should get round the table now and avoid a strike that nobody wants.”

But his comments provoked a furious response from fellow LFEPA member Councillor Susan Hall, who is also leader of the Harrow Council Tory opposition.

She said: “That is absolutely outrageous. He is politically grandstanding yet again. This is way beyond politics and it is absolutely unforgivable for him to play political games. The safety of London is far more important.”

She said the agreement was arrived at cross party and said the strike was “a shame because it won't solve anything”.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is a huge vote for strike action. Firefighters hate going on strike – but they hate being bullied even more.”

Mr Coleman said: “It’s disappointing and saddening that the only losers in all of this will be firefighters.

“A strike by the FBU will be unnecessary, unjustified and viewed unsympathetically by Londoners. This dispute centres on proposed changes to make people safer.”

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Our contingency plans will of course now move forward to ensure the capital is protected during any period of strike action by the FBU.”

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15th October 2010

FBU Vote for Industrial Action

I am sad to say that the threat of industrial action looms over the London Fire Brigade this Autumn, over negotiations for new shifts and contracts. The Fire Brigade is overseen by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Association (LFEPA) and in September the Fire Brigades Union voted for industrial action short of a strike in protest at the new shift patterns, which they believe could endanger Londoner’s safety.

As the Labour Leader on LFEPA, I am anxious to see a resolution to this issue which satisfies and reassures these concerns. I have written to the Mayor of London urging him to take over negotiations with the FBU, either directly or through ACAS, but there is no doubt this will prove his first major test in industrial relations. You can find out more about LFEPA at www.london-fire.gov.uk.  

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23rd September 2010