Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merseyside fire staff back overtime action

Firecrews on Merseyside have voted in favour of industrial action over what they call a staffing crisis.

They will refuse to do voluntary overtime and say the fire and rescue service needs to recruit new staff to cope with shortfalls.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said every day there were engines standing empty with no staff to use them.

Chief fire officer Tony McGuirk questioned the ballot result, saying not enough people voted in favour.

Overtime working is completely voluntary and no one can be forced to work overtime
Mark Dunne, brigade chairman of the Merseyside FBU

"Only 38% of our operational staff voted for industrial action and less than half (49%) of FBU members, which I do not believe is a mandate for action", he said.

"Any industrial action will have no impact on our ability to continue to provide an outstanding service to our local communities.

"The only people it will affect are firefighters who, sadly, will lose money due to the Fire Brigades Union pointless action."

But Mark Dunne, brigade chairman of the Merseyside FBU, said 70% of members returned forms and 70% gave strong backing.

"Overtime working is completely voluntary and no one can be forced to work overtime," he added.

He said the union would be looking at early January for the voluntary overtime ban action and that fire service management should not rely on staff to do overtime to cover up for shortages.



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