People in the private sector are worrying about possible job losses because their companies are struggling to survive the recession. Other Londoners have to absorb public spending cuts because Labour’s deficit has left us with no money. They are doing it, for the most part, with stoicism.
Yet the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) has voted to strike. Not because of job losses, pay cuts or longer hours but because of a small change to their shift patterns. These changes are designed to modernise the capital’s fire service, enabling firefighters do more fire prevention work during the day shift, preventing deadly fires and saving lives.
The change means that both day and night shifts will be 12 hours long, rather than the nine hour day and 15 hour night shift that currently exists. The sleep periods on night shifts and the opportunity for firefighters to have second jobs on their days off are both protected.
The FBU says these changes will jeopardise public safety, even though they have been successfully introduced in fire brigades across the country. Despite all this, on the 1st and 5th of November FBU members will leave their posts.
|FBU demonstrators block contract fire cover providers|
Firefighters do an essential job and are willing to put their lives at risk, they have traditionally been held in high regard by the public. But the FBU’s willingness to walkout on Bonfire night over such a trivial matter reflects very poorly on its leadership and its action won’t attract public sympathy.