Fire protest takes to streets

FIREFIGHTERS across Suffolk have vowed to continue industrial action today with the announcement of more strikes over the next two and a half months.More than 300 fire fighters from across the UK marched through Ipswich yesterday in protest against plans to cut 12 jobs.

FIRE fighters across Suffolk have vowed to continue industrial action today with the announcement of more strikes over the next two and a half months.

More than 300 fire fighters from across the UK marched through Ipswich yesterday in protest against plans to cut 12 jobs.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) then gathered on the Cornhill and met speeches from union officials with cries of support.

The FBU argues that the county council's plans to cut jobs on the turntable ladder in Bury St Edmunds will put lives at risk.

Strike action began in Suffolk earlier this month and continued yesterday with walkouts in 11 of the county's 35 stations.

Carl Francis, assistant divisional office for Suffolk fire and rescue service and the FBU's officers' section secretary for the county spoke of the wide spread support for the strike.

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He said: "Officers obviously do not agree with the cuts and support the action in defending the cuts. The whole membership feels so very strongly about this.

"It is important for the fire authority to see how much support we have got from all over the country.

"Unfortunately they are not accepting that this will simply reduce the safety of the public and fire fighters in Suffolk further.

"Action will continue. The support we have had from other fire brigades includes hardship collections to support our financial loss.

"Suffolk firefighters are losing money to fight these cuts and they will achieve no greater pay as a result of this action. It is simply in defence of the service that is delivered to the people of Suffolk."

Mr Francis said strikes were planned throughout September and into October and those involved would continue their action even in the case of an emergency.

He added: "During the periods of action, the responsibility to provide cover is in the hands of the fire authority."

In a meeting with the county council on Tuesday, union bosses asked for proof of how safe people would be if the jobs were cut.

Mr Francis said it was only now that the authority was willing to enter discussions on the issue, though a spokeswoman for the county council said "the door has been open and we have been available to talk."

Mr Francis added: "They took no notice of the points we raised at the time of consultation. It has taken formal action for them to talk to us."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council, said: "The authority is investing more to prevent fires and to protect the people of Suffolk and that is what this is about. It is the Fire Brigades Union that has called this industrial action, putting the public at risk and costing the tax payer £50,000 a day. The plans set out by the county council will save lives and invest more money in protecting people across the whole of the county."

Strikes will take place August 19 from 7pm until 10pm, August 20 from 2pm until 7pm and August 21 from 3pm until 7pm.

Mr Francis said there would also be strikes throughout September and four strikes in October.

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