Tuesday, 26 October 2010

It is Outrageous and Irresponsible!!

Well it is not often you see a title like that on my blog, I am not known for being one who likes to provoke debate/ controversy or tackle something in the news. In fact I am pretty amenable and things do not usually get to me.

However, there I was this morning driving to work when I heard on the radio that London Firefighters are going out on strike on Bonfire day. Can you believe it? Outrageous and irresponsible were the two words that first came to mind.

Now I am not against industrial action per se, I work in a unionised environment, I understand the logic of the synergy of many people coming together to fight for one cause but to take their action on one of the most risky nights of the year - that to me seems unbelievable. Strike if you really feel you need to (and a 79% majority did) but not on Bonfire night surely?

I believe our uniformed services do a wonderful job and I do not want to undervalue what they do but I have to look at the bigger picture and all these thousands of people who are to be made redundant from local and central government. Given that many people are losing jobs or do not have jobs full stop, that puts a different slant on the fact that the firefighters do not wish to have their contracts changed. From my understanding (and it is very limited) I believe the firefighters are being asked to move to a new shift pattern which will shorten their nights and lengthen their day shifts - to me an outsider, this does not seem that bad.

Then wanting to be a bit balanced in my perspective I have done some research from the news and also the Fire Brigades Union and found that the way the firefighters initially found out about these proposed changes was via the Brigade Chiefs personal blog. How off is that? Negotiations had commenced and it was thought that headway was being made and then it appears that the Fire Chief got impatient, as he announced that if the employers terms were not met within 3 months that all firefighters would be sent a letter of 'contract termination' and they would only be re-engaged to work again if they agreed to the new terms. The union are calling that Victorian but actually it happens more regularly than you may think in the UK.

So whilst I feel sympathy that the firefighters are not being handled very well, I think their Union is completely misguided and that it is disgusting that firefighters are allowed to strike when the Police are not and they are also having shift changes imposed on them at the moment.

I suppose though at the end of the day what do I know?

Tell me your thoughts on this and if you have any inside knowledge I would be interested to hear more.
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