FIREFIGHTERS in Hyndburn expressed their regret this week at having to resort to further strike action.
Fire crews across Brit-ain took to the picket lines at 9am on Tuesday for their 24-hour walkout. They are angry that the fire service employers have announced that any future talks must have preconditions, including the union's full commitment to the Bain recommendations.
These include proposals to alter the shift structure, reducing the number of firefighters on duty at night, a move which the firefighters claim will put lives at risk.
Firefighter Bruce Chapman, who is based in Accrington, said: "We are just disappointed that no progress has been made at all. We have compromised our position and offered to accept 16 per cent, which is a big drop from 40 per cent. But the Government is still saying there is no money, which is not a compromise.
"We are not striking because we haven't got 40 per cent but because we have been offered four per cent which is what we would have got with the standard rise.
"It started off as an issue about pay, now the Government is trying to implement the Bain proposals. It's about cuts in jobs and cuts in cover, including proposals for cuts on night shifts, which is when we need firefighters the most, when people are in their beds. We may get more money because of cuts they make but somebody could pay with their life, which is totally unacceptable.
"It's very disappointing to be sitting out here again. It's not very nice. But the public seem to be supporting us. They are pipping their horns and waving, which raises spirits a bit."
Station Commander Mick Holmes said that all of the firefighters were unhappy about being back on the picket line. He added: "I am just upset with the predicament that we are in when firefighters are forced to withdraw their labour. This is about the future of the fire service, not a set of principles.
"I have less than 18 months to go and I am here worrying about the future of the fire service. It should remain as it has always been, the highest-performing public service. We are extremely upset that we have had to withdraw our emergency cover to the people of Hyndburn. It's not a nice situation to be in."
The Fire Brigades Union is now planning two 48-hour strikes from next Tuesday and next Saturday..
- AN ARMY Green Goddess was called to a fire at a house in Clement Street, Accrington, at 12.30am on Tuesday It had already been evacuated when the crew, based at Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre, Union Road, arrived. There was minimal damage to an upstairs room.