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Essex FBU secretary: "Chief needs a change of heart, not just a change of tune"

Essex Fire Brigade Union crews gave a luke-warm reception to calls by the chief fire officer for cooperation over the biggest spending cuts in living memory
Essex Fire Brigade Union Secretary
wants Chief to change his
heart not just tune

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU Secretary: “Chief needs a change of heart, not just a change of tune.”

Essex fire crews gave a luke-warm reception to calls by the chief fire officer for cooperation over the biggest spending cuts in living memory. The call comes after successive years of cuts to numbers of frontline firefighters and 999 services in Essex and without any end in sight to the 16-month long dispute and on-going industrial action.

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU Secretary: “We welcome this change of tune by the chief but what we actually need is a change of heart. Ever since the Chancellor’s statement on 22nd June, we’ve repeatedly requested joint meetings with fire authority councillors and senior managers to protect frontline 999 services as a priority, seek out savings and cut any waste. But our calls have fallen on deaf ears. Our repeated requests for information about the size and costs of frontline and back office functions have all been refused or withheld. And our promised invitations to take part in internal reviews and consultations on ‘change and transformation’ have never arrived.”

“Throughout our on-going dispute, the chief has consistently disrupted talks and then last month refused to sign the negotiated settlement. And throughout, the service media and communications team have churned out propaganda criticising union negotiators and treating our members with contempt.”

“So, whilst we cautiously welcome the chief’s public call for cooperation on the coalition Government’s spending cuts, what we actually need to see is a genuine commitment to meaningful talks, mutual respect and openness and transparency of information. We shall continue to seek cooperative talks with senior managers and fire authority councillors and we hope they will be forthcoming. So we repeat our previous requests for grown up discussions with the service and wait for their call.”

“We would also welcome hearing the kind of robust, public statements defending frontline 999 services from our fire chiefs as we have been hearing from chief police constables around the country in recent weeks and days.”

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