Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 16:44 UK

Firefighters vote to take action

Firefighters in Essex have voted in favour of taking industrial action, but stopped short of an all-out strike.

The vote was over the county's fire authority wanting to reduce jobs, said the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

The ballot showed out of the 789 who voted, 616 were in favour of further action while 171 were not. Two vote papers had been spoiled.

Chief fire officer David Johnson has previously said the service was working in a difficult economic climate.

The union says the authority is targeting frontline crew instead of making genuine savings.

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU brigade chair said: "Essex fire crews have shown their strong opposition to these cuts and other imposed changes.

"We are withholding calling action at this stage to allow the fire authority the chance to take a second look at their plans and discuss alternatives with us.

"This will give the fire authority time to reflect and for negotiations to take place."

'Extremely disappointed'

Assistant chief fire officer Gordon Hunter said that despite the ballot result, it would be "business as usual".

He said: "We are extremely disappointed that members of the FBU have voted to take industrial action.

"Despite the current differences, we are able to reassure the public that when they dial '999' they will be able to rely on the same level of operational response as they always have done."

In June, a last-minute meeting between the FBU and fire chiefs failed to reach an agreement.



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