1. ITV Report

Essex Fire Service dispute settled

Members of the Fire Brigades Union in Essex have voted to end their long-running dispute. Photo: Essex County Fire & Rescue Service

The longest running dispute in fire service history has been settled in Essex. Members of the Fire Brigades Union and the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have reached agreement in the four year long period of industrial action.

Fire crews voted 2 to 1 to accept the settlement terms negotiated and recommended by their union leaders.

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said that while both parties would acknowledge there remain differences, it was time to draw a line under the past and look forward.

“The Service will face significant financial challenges over the next couple of years and it is important for us all to focus our energies on the future and learn to work together once again to achieve the best possible outcome for Essex."

– David Johnson, Essex Chief Fire Officer

The Fire Brigades Union says it still has serious concerns of the reduction of wholetime fire crews in Brentwood and Canvey Island. The union says it has written assurances from the Chief Fire Officer to maintain the overall numbers of wholetime firefighters across Essex up to March 2015.

"Negotiators from both sides deserve credit for overcomingdeeply held differences to negotiate the compromise terms needed to settle thedispute and to lay the foundations for rebuilding industrial relations. The challenges ahead are huge as the fire andrescue service faces the most severe cuts ever in central government funding."

– Keith Handscomb, FBU Executive Council member

The settlement includes new terms and allowances and both sides say they are starting to work more closely together. The four-year dispute led to a series of short strikes over the summer.