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ESSEX FIREFIGHTERS STRIKE COULD GO NATIONWIDE

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The general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Ken Cameron, warned last night that any attempt to sack striking ...
The general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Ken Cameron, warned last night that any attempt to sack striking Essex firefighters could spark the first national firefighters' walkout for 20 years.

The Guardian (p7) reports that the Essex firefighters begin the first of three planned stoppages in protest against cuts today. Essex CC has sent letters to local FBU members stating that strikers would be liable to be dismissed and would not be reinstated.

However, Tony Wright, leader of the Essex Fire Authority, seemed to draw back from the sacking threat yesterday, saying that no decision had been taken to dismiss people supporting the strikes.

But he added: 'We can't rule these things out. It depends on how long the dispute goes on.' The dispute centres on the fire authority's determination to save around£300,000 by shedding 16 firefighters' jobs.

The FBU argues that cutting crew levels at a time when both fire and road accident calls have risen sharply will endanger the safety of both firefighters and the public.

The union wants the three Essex councils that make up the fire authority to dip into their£26m reserves to keep up the numbers.

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