Search

Unions speak out

PUBLISHED: 16:13 12 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:37 03 March 2010

UNION officials and the political leadership of Suffolk fire service today denied that the disbanding of the county's marine fire-fighting unit was linked to the threat of industrial action.

UNION officials and the political leadership of Suffolk fire service today denied that the disbanding of the county's marine fire-fighting unit was linked to the threat of industrial action.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union have been unhappy about the existence of the unit for many years.

They are concerned that it is not properly funded, and lead to firefighters being put in unnecessary danger.

However until now their requests to have the squad disbanded have fallen on deaf ears.

Now, however, the unit is being disbanded – and now a former member has claimed the decision was made to soothe the union as it prepares for possible industrial action.

The firefighter claims that the disbandment of the unit is appeasement by the county council as it tries to improve relations in the run up to the vote on industrial action.

However both sides have rejected the claim.

"That's ridiculous – and I notice that whoever made this claim isn't prepared to say who he or she is," said county council executive member Peter Monk.

"We've had difficult relations with the FBU, we were taken to ACAS by them, so why would we go ahead with this just to please them," he said.

Suffolk FBU secretary Paul Woolstenholmes also rejected the claim.

"We have been saying for many years that we were unhappy about the operation of this unit – but this is no backstreet deal," he said.

"Firefighters at sea are dropped on to ships with only their familiar breathing apparatus.

"They have to use the ship's own firefighting equipment – and while everyone else is getting off the ship firefighters are going on.

"We are concerned about the safety of our members – and this is not a safe situation," he said

The disbanding of the Suffolk marine unit will mean that the nearest dedicated units to the East Anglian coast are in Kent and Lincolnshire.

Kent FBU Mark Simmons confirmed today that that his members in the county were continuing to operate the service – although it would not be covered if union members call industrial action during the autumn.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists