Fire crews in Essex back strike

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Fire crews in Essex have voted for strike action in a dispute over concerns about cuts.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Essex claims current plans for cuts would see the loss of one in five front line crews in Essex since 2008.

But Essex Fire Authority chairman Anthony Hedley said firefighters have been told their jobs are secure.

He said the authority has pledged to keep all fire stations open and retain all of its fire engines.

The FBU said union members voted two to one in favour of strike action.

'Opportunity to negotiate'

Mick Rogers, FBU brigade secretary, said: "Essex fire crews have shown the strength of opposition to front line cuts and changes being forced through without their agreement.

"There is a window of opportunity to negotiate and reach an agreement acceptable to both sides in this dispute if councillors want that to happen.

"No-one in the fire service ever wants to take strike action and no-one will be happy if we are forced to do so.

"It is crucial the fire authority now wakes up and joins with us in genuine moves to resolve this dispute."

Mr Hedley said he was bitterly disappointed that Essex firefighters have voted to strike.

"This is 2012 not the 1970s and in all walks of life people are facing change and unprecedented financial uncertainty," he said.

"We do not have a bottomless pit of cash and we have to modernise outdated working practices and ensure that we are using our resources paid for by council tax payers in Essex in the most efficient and effective way.

"The FBU has got to work with us on that."

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