UPDATE: Agreement reached with firefighters over strike

Fire engine in Aylesbury
Fire engine in Aylesbury
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Bucks firefighters have today agreed to cover major emergencies during tomorrow’s strike after a day of intense negotiations.

The firefighters will walk out for four hours from 12 noon tomorrow over what the Fire Brigade Union claims are ‘unsafe, unfair and unworkable’ pensions proposals by central government.

However, Bucks Fire and Rescue says it is ‘confident’ it will still be able to provide good coverage with non-striking firefighters.

Bosses in Bucks had originally said that striking firefighters would not be allowed to work during the whole of Wednesday, which the union had said it was ‘extremely concerned’ about.

But following discussions today, the service has now announced that a ‘significant agreement to protect the public’ has been reached.

Jason Thelwell, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s chief operating officer, said: “Following the refusal of the Fire Brigades Union to agree to cover major emergencies, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s staff and managers have been talking through a number of issues today.

“As a result we have reached a significant agreement to help protect the public. Firefighters who are on strike have agreed to volunteer to return to work in the event of a major incident, and will be on duty from 9am to 12 noon and 4pm to 6pm.

“We are confident that our business continuity plan for the whole day has enough capacity to allow us to deliver a safe level of cover across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

“Once again, we would like to encourage people to extra care and stay safe to avoid having to make a 999 call.”

Prior to the agreement Mr Thelwell had said that ‘although there is a national return to work agreement in place in other fire authority areas, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has been unable to agree this arrangement with the Fire Brigades Union as they want to link it to an agreement that we allow firefighters who have other paid jobs to work at these other jobs while they are on strike’.