A fire authority was accused today of being "hell bent" on provoking industrial action by firefighters after it agreed to offer no-strike contracts to key staff to provide cover during disputes.
The Essex Fire Authority said it planned to "greatly improve" public safety by offering incentivised no-strike contracts for key groups of firefighters, adding that the move was designed to guarantee public safety in the face of the "increased likelihood" of industrial action by firefighters' union FBU.
The fire authority's policy and strategy committee gave the initiative its full backing.
FBU regional secretary Adrian Clarke accused the authority of trying to provoke a strike, adding: "This latest move is the surest sign yet Essex fire chiefs are planning even bigger cuts in vital 999 services.
"Now they seem to be gearing up to copy London's fire chiefs who first wasted taxpayers' money on preparing a strike-breaking force and then provoked a strike by issuing notices threatening to sack all 5,500 firefighters in London."
FBU leader Matt Wrack has written to the government complaining that a report was being prepared on whether to permanently remove 27 fire engines which were used as part of contingency plans during the recent strikes in London over the sacking notices.
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