Hadleigh firefighters to join strike

HADLEIGH'S Mayor said he had "serious concerns" about a firefighters' strike in a town plagued by arson attacks.Richard Whiting spoke out after Hadleigh's retained firefighters vowed to take action if their demands were not met.

By Amanda Cresswell

HADLEIGH'S Mayor said he had "serious concerns" about a firefighters' strike in a town plagued by arson attacks.

Richard Whiting spoke out after Hadleigh's retained firefighters vowed to take action if their demands were not met.

Mr Whiting told of his safety fears should 48-hour action go-ahead on Wednesday evening and said: "It would leave people in a very exposed situation. Obviously a am very concerned about arson attacks."


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He called the 40 percent rise "unrealistic" and costs will also have to be met by the tax-payers. Instead he argued a smaller rise of 20 percent would be more palatable.

However Valerie Kennington, of Pykenham Way, one of the streets targeted by the arsonists, backed calls for a 40 percent rise saying: "I am right behind the firefighters."

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Their comments came after retained fire fighters Dale Willings and leading fire fighter Tony Branch confirmed Hadleigh station – staffed wholly by part-time staff – will join the strike.

Its10 staff, all members of the Fire Brigade's Union, are supporting the pay dispute which would mean Hadleigh will receive cover from a Green Goddess, stationed at Wattisham.

Mr Willings, defended his actions calling for public support. "A lot of people in Hadleigh think they will be all right because they have a retained service, so we won't be on strike.

"But this isn't true.

"Most of the retained fire-fighters are in the fire brigade union (16,000 nationally) with (1,000) in the retained fire brigade union, and we will be going on strike if an agreement is not reached."

He spoke out against criticism that a strike would put the public at risk, in the second worst hit arson town in Suffolk, saying: "We have been told a strike is a disgrace because we are putting the public in danger, but we are the public.

"My family is involved just as much as any other family. We don't want to strike but the government and the employers are pushing us so far down the line we have no option.

"We have sent the government full reports in march this year about intent for a pay claim and they have waited until the 11th hour to talk to us."

Mr Willings, who receives an average of £4,500 a year said: "All we are asking is pay parity with the rest of the emergency services.

"We are on a pay formula relating us to manual workers miners, when the rest of the emergency services are classed as professionals.

"Why should the public back us? Because we always back them, we look after them. We are there for them in their times of need. We provide a first class service and are not paid for that service."

So far this year the Hadleigh station has attended around 170 calls, 60 of these arson.

A part-time fighter receives a £1,881 – 2,055 retained fee, plus additional call out fees, and a full time fighter receives £21,521 rising to £22,300 after five years.

nFirefighters to get new offer – see pages six and seven.

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