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EDITIONS
Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 22:26 GMT
Hundreds 'leave FBU'
Fire engine
There has been friction between fire unions
A large number of Lincolnshire's firefighters have left the Fire Brigades Union since strike action was first proposed, a fire chief has insisted.

The senior officer estimates about 200 firefighters have left the FBU and joined other unions.

His allegations follow Wednesday's move by a number of union members to break their picket line in Spalding to move a fire engine to another station.

The group of retained Lincolnshire firefighters in the FBU refusing to go on strike has now grown to 20.

Negotiation preferred

Lincolnshire's chief fire officer, Alan Riddett, said many firefighters just did not want to strike: "Since the pay dispute began and the vote for industrial action we have seen what I think is about 200 firefighters move over to other unions.

"Most have gone to the Retained Firefighters Union.

"This is simply because they don't want to strike. They want to change their pay and conditions but they want to do this through negotiation, not with the threat of striking."

The Retained Firefighters Union is not taking part in industrial action.

Repercussion concern

One of the strikebreakers, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC: "Our manager decided we wouldn't be called in for the strike.

"We didn't want to cause any upset to the FBU, but we felt they should respect our right to work, just as we respect their right to strike.

"Public safety is paramount. Retained firefighters are community firefighters, we're serving our local community, friends, colleagues and family."

He said he had remained anonymous due to concerns "about any repercussions to my family".

No bitterness

He said: "No threats have been made but I'm still really concerned."

Lincolnshire has a higher proportion of retained firefighters than many other areas, with 600 retained to just 180 full time firefighters.

The Spalding group has not yet had to attend an incident.

Jim Smith, a regional official with the FBU said earlier he was disappointed that the crew crossed the picket line.

"But they are our friends and we will probably be with them on Saturday or Sunday at another incident and will probably be sharing a cup of tea with them.

"There will be no ill feelings there at all."

Senior FBU officers have denied the strike is in trouble but were unable to confirm the figures for members switching unions.


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14 Nov 02 | England
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