Monday, September 04, 2006



Regional news
In association with The Royal Bank of Scotland

Threats 'made by fire strikers'

Sep 4 2006

By Ian Hernon, Liverpool Echo

Senior officers tackle a fire in flats above a shop in Kensington

FIREFIGHTERS who agreed to work through the Merseyside strike today claimed their families were being threatened.

Abusive phone calls and dangerous vandalism have been reported by staff who agreed to work during the industrial action, which started on Friday.

They told bosses firefighting equipment was tampered with while stand-in crews were attending callouts.

Today fire officials claimed insults and threats were coming from some striking members of staff, who were phoning the working crews' private numbers to intimidate them.

They warned the handful of individuals they believed were responsible, saying there would be no amnesty for their actions after the strikes ended, and they would use any disciplinary methods at their disposal.

A spokesman said: "While the majority of striking firefighters have behaved properly, a minority have been involved in childish, disruptive, and sometimes dangerous actions.

"We think a gauge on one of the engines from the city centre was tampered with, showing it had a full tank of petrol when it did not.

"We will raise the issue with the Fire Brigades Union today and report the more serious incidents to the police."

Former firefighters have been brought out of administration jobs and retrained to operate fire engines after 1,000 staff walked out on Thursday morning in a dispute over job cuts and changed working patterns.

The striking firefighters were returning to work for two hours today, before starting a second four-day strike.

Talks to end the strike were continuing todayafter a productive meeting on Saturday between union leader Les Skarratts and deputy fire chief Bill Evans.

Mr Skarratts said: "At this stage, we are satisfied that the talks are genuine and not simply a public relations move on behalf of the fire authority.

"We feel there has been some movement on the issues we have raised."

The industrial action is planned to end at noon on Friday. All but four fire stations remained open.

No-one from the union was available to comment on the allegations of phone threats and vandalism.

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