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Locking out firefighters is “playing politics with Londoners’ lives”

Ahead of today’s (Thursday 2nd October) London Fire Authority meeting Labour London Assembly Member Fiona Twycross has warned that locking out striking firefighters and preventing them from returning to work would put Londoners’ lives at risk. The comments come after the Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson put forward proposals, at Mayor Boris Johnson’s request, to lock out striking fire fighters.

The proposals will be discussed at a meeting of the London Fire Authority later today with Ms Twycross set to fight against the move. The discussion comes after Boris Johnson instructed the outgoing Fire Commissioner to produce a recommendation on whether to lock out firefighters.

If agreed, the move would mean firefighters who strike for short periods of one or two hours during the day, in order to minimise risk and disruption to the public, are prevented from returning to work that day. This would leave the lesser trained contingency crews unnecessarily covering whole days at a time despite fully trained firefighters being available.

Commenting on the Fire Commissioner’s report recommending locking out striking fire fighters from the remainder of their shifts, Labour’s London Assembly Fire Spokesperson, Fiona Twycross AM, said:

“This proposal from the Commissioner, and the Mayor’s vocal support, is deeply wrong. Stopping firefighters from returning to work after short strikes puts political arguments about finances ahead of the safety of Londoners which should always be the priority of our politicians and emergency services. Providing an inferior service when you have experienced and willing firefighters on hand is reckless. For the Mayor to block firefighters from returning to work and keeping our city safe is playing politics with Londoners’ lives.                                                 

“Cutting their pay and starving firefighters back to work isn’t the solution. What we need is for the Government to take their concerns seriously and to back down from forcing firefighters to work until they are sixty.”

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