Merseyside firefighters to stage industrial action that could last up to six months

Fire Brigades Union members in Merseyside were balloted over industrial action Credit: PA

Firefighters, control and non-uniformed staff across Merseyside have voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of industrial action that could last up to six months.

The action -short of strike - will consist of a refusal to undertake pre-arranged overtime, beginning no earlier than Thursday 1 December 2022 and potentially lasting for six months.

The ballot comes after a serious break down in industrial relations between Merseyside Fire Brigades Union and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority and the failure to reach agreement on several issues.

The Merseyside ballot and subsequent action is separate from any national ballot or action which may take place in relation to pay.

The firefighters are in favour of industrial action in a dispute over night time staffing. Credit: PA images

The Merseyside Fire Brigades Union say they're striking over:

  • The imposed reduction in night time staffing numbers in Merseyside Fire Control Room from the agreed level of 6 to 5.

  • The introduction of new duty shift systems - without negotiation - which essentially require new firefighters to work both whole time and retained and breach nationally agreed terms and conditions in relation to overtime rates of pay.

  • The non-agreed expansion of the firefighter role in contracts for all new entrants

  • Firefighter apprentices being required to attend the workplace outside of core hours to undertake training sessions, assessments, charity days and exams.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “Merseyside managers and the fire authority are displaying an astounding level of arrogance.

"They are ignoring nationally agreed procedures which are designed to resolve local issues. These procedures are designed to stop disputes escalating to this sort of level. 

"Fire and Rescue Service managers and Fire Authority councillors must immediately meet with FBU union representatives to resolve this situation before it deteriorates further.”

Credit: PA images

A Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service spokesperson said: "We are disappointed at the outcome of the FBU ballot on local industrial action but we will not meet any demands which could result in less fire engines, less fire stations, slower response times or fewer staff in our control rooms overall.

"Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is twice as busy during the day than it is at night, so the changes have actually resulted in an increase in staff available during the day and a decrease at night when there are less calls.

"We remain committed to constructive dialogue with all our representative bodies, which puts our communities first."

The industrial action is separate to a national ballot of firefighters over pay.