Fuel to the fire

October 29, 2010, 1:00 AM GMT+0

Plans by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) to ballot thousands of firefighters to strike in London over Bonfire Night and Diwali weekend in opposition to changes in their shift pattern, have failed to ignite much support from the majority of the British public, our poll has found.

  • 73% of people think the firefighters are wrong to go on strike on Bonfire Night and are putting the public at risk if they carry out this action.
  • 23% believe that the firefighters are right to oppose the changes and that striking on Bonfire Night ‘will exert the most pressure’.
  • Despite opposing this strike action, a majority support the principle that firefighters should be able to strike - 54% think firefighters should have the right to strike, 38% would support a ban

Changing shift patterns

The Fire Brigades Union announced earlier this week that thousands of London firefighters will go on strike over the Bonfire Night and the Hindu festival of Diwali weekend, from 10am on Friday 5th November until 9am on Sunday 7th November. This action is the result of alleged threats by the commissioner of the London Fire Brigade to sack firefighters if they do not accept the new work shift patterns being proposed.

Last Saturday, a London-wide firefighter strike resulted in there being 27 fire engine crews available across the capital instead of the usual 150. Despite receiving criticism ‘for putting the public’s safety at risk’, including from the Government and Labour leader Ed Miliband, FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack told The Mirror, ‘We have no choice. The alternative is to allow London’s firefighters to be doormats for their employers.’

So far, talks to try and avert the Bonfire Night strike have failed.

See the survey details and full results