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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 January 2010

South Yorkshire fire dispute Negotiations go national

South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has agreed with their employer to refer the dispute over shift changes and other working conditions to the national bargaining body, the National Joint Council.

The 48 hour strike for 24/25 January was called off, as was the eight-day strike from 27 January to 4 February.

The bullying management had been threatening to sack firefighters if they don't agree to detrimental and imposed shift changes.

Fire chiefs, backed by the Labour-controlled fire authority, have been trying to force through 12 hour shifts for 18 months, but firefighters fear these changes would make it easier for management to cut night-time fire cover and reduce staffing levels further.

FBU members went on strike seven times in the autumn, forcing the bosses to withdraw threatened dismissals and agree to go to ACAS arbitration to resolve the dispute, so further strike action was suspended.

But management have reneged on this deal, wanting to set pre-conditions to arbitration. After FBU members rejected a further 'offer', South Yorkshire fire chief Mark Smitherman sent letters to all South Yorkshire firefighters saying they would be sacked if they didn't sign up to the new shift patterns by 18 January.

In a survey of union members conducted last year by the South Yorkshire FBU, over 90% of firefighters complained of bullying from management.

This has intensified in this dispute with the chief fire officer throwing dismissal notices around like confetti.

Now one firefighter has been sacked - for allegedly posting comments about the strike on Facebook. And six more are facing disciplinary action for chatting on the social networking website.

Acting FBU brigade chair Graham Wilkinson said: "We see this as management harassing and intimidating firefighters purely because of the strike action."

The sacked firefighter has launched an appeal.

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In The Socialist 27 January 2010:

Prosecute the war criminal Blair


Credit crunch

Bonuses for bankers but recession for workers

Outrage against bankers spurs Obama on

Unemployment figures don't tell the full story


Socialist Party election campaign

Lewisham Socialist Party prepares for election

Support for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) grows


Socialist Party news and analysis

Haiti: Survivors shackled by huge debt and poverty

Cadbury's bosses opt for a sugary takeover

Far right thugs invade Stoke

Food for thought


Socialist Party workplace news

Unison black members reject witch-hunt

South Yorkshire fire dispute Negotiations go national

Building the fight against education cuts at Leeds

Glasgow City Unison fights back against cuts in jobs and services

Visteon pensioners protest

Temperature rises at British Airways

Ticket office staff strike again


Socialist Students

University of Gloucestershire staff fight back

Cuts at Cardiff University must be fought


Socialist Party feature

Imperialism in Africa today


Workplace Feature: IT workers in mini strike wave

PCS members at Hewlett Parkard strike in Lytham St Annes and North Tyneside

Seventh day of national strike action at Fujitsu IT


 

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