Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 17:35 UK

Fire crews to strike over sacking

Firefighters on Merseyside are to go on strike in support of a colleague who was sacked after an alleged assault.

Kevin Hughes was accused of attacking the son of a colleague in July 2008. The allegation was investigated by police but no charges were brought.

In a Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) ballot 425 out of 652 members voted in favour of industrial action over the issue.

Tony McGuirk, Merseyside's chief fire officer, described the strike as "pointless and needless".

Since his dismissal in July, firefighters have been donating part of their wage to help Mr Hughes and his family.

We will give the fire authority some time to reflect and decide whether to back the decision of the appeal panel
Les Skarratts, FBU

He lost an appeal against the decision by the Merseyside Fire Authority earlier in September.

Speaking after the secret ballot, Les Skarratts, FBU's Merseyside secretary, said: "The fire authority needs to look at the decision of the appeal hearing.

"In our view, the process was badly flawed, creating a series of wrong decisions.

"The quicker they start making the right decisions the better."

Strike cover

Mr McGuirk described the announcement of industrial action as premature and promised that the people of Merseyside would not be affected by the action.

"Any strike action by the FBU is as pointless and needless as the original ballot," he said.

"Strike action is now confirmed before any appeal has been heard by an employment tribunal.

"Merseyside FBU has a history of striking being their first choice of industrial action rather than their last.

"What I can reassure the general public is that we will be able to provide comprehensive fire cover whatever action the FBU take and for as long as it lasts."

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