Firefighters call off Bonfire Night strike

The Fire Brigade’s Union announced last night that the strike set for 10am this morning for 47 hours was cancelled after negotiations with the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

The mass walk out would have involved all London fire stations from 10am today (Friday) until the same time on Sunday.

Concern had been growing about fire cover because this week includes Bonfire Night and Diwali, the Hindu festival of Light, when firefighters receive and attend twice as many calls than an average day.

On average, fireworks cause around 20 serious fires.

Blue Watch manager of Homerton fire station, Karl Haider, said: “The Brigade has agreed to go with us to arbitration and to delay the decision on mass sackings until January 26.

“Industrial action short of a strike remains on.”

As part of the original plans for the Industrial action, it would have seen firefighters from Homerton, Kingsland, Stoke Newington and Shoreditch fire stations walking out on strike and fire cover being provided by a private company AssetCo.

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But safety concerns were raised over the training of the AssetCo workers who filled in for the firefighters on their previous eight hour strikes.

An agreement has now been reached for both sides to meet on November 16 with the independent Resolution Advisory Panel to try to solve the long-running dispute.

The row began after LFB tried to change firefighters’ shift patterns - a move which many claimed would mean workers would not see their families for days at a time.

A stand-off occurred when fire bosses threatened to sack union members on November 26.

London’s fire authority chairman, Brian Coleman welcomed the decision, he said: “This is a sensible move,

“These strikes have always been unjustified, unnecessary and utterly avoidable.”

The dispute is over threats by the Brigade to terminate all firefighters’ contracts over their refusals to take on new shift patterns which would see them working 13 hour days and 11 hour nights as opposed to their current patterns of nine hour day shifts and 15 hour nights.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “My intention has always been to reach an agreement on proposals that will make Londoners safer and firefighters safer.

“Going to an independently-chaired body to help us seek a way forward is a step in the right direction.”