Long-running firefighter dispute in Essex resumes

Firefighters in Essex have resumed their industrial action over cuts in front line services.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are not working overtime and are refusing to cover staff shortages.

The chief fire officer told union officials that no settlement agreement could be signed before the results of October's government spending review.

The firefighters dispute began in August 2009 in protest at the loss of 44 jobs.

'Good faith'

In April 2010 the action was temporarily suspended, but in July talks between Essex Fire Service and the FBU broke down when a key document was withdrawn.

Speaking last week as he gave notice of the industrial action, Keith Flynn from the union said: "In good faith, throughout the summer, fire crews have tried to cover the shortages on the front line caused by the cuts while we have been negotiating a compromise settlement.

"That good faith has been thrown back in their faces."

But chief fire officer David Johnson said the union had been given "ample opportunity" to sign the agreement when it was first presented to officials, but that the union had "dragged their heels".

He said: "We don't know what level of cuts we will be facing but as we have said all along, we can't rule anything in or out until we know the extent to which cuts will have to be made."

The results of the government's spending review are announced on 20 October.

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