News : Call Centre Operators Stage 8-day Walkout over Shift Patterns
Essex, London, UK, March 11, 2015 -- Emergency fire service control operators in Essex are in the midst of an eight-day strike action due to a new shift system.
Control operators walked out at 7am on Tuesday and are not expected to return until 7am next Wednesday in protest against shift changes that "disproportionately affect women with young families".
A statement released by the Essex County Fire & Rescue Service said: "Essex will once again have strong contingency arrangements in place to protect the county and members of the public will not be affected by this action.
"This strike action will not impact on fire appliances turning up at incidents as the men and women in Control are those that take 999 calls."
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says the new system is making it difficult for working mothers due to the change in shift patterns, and the strike is part of a long-running local dispute over the new system, pensions and cuts.
Riccardo la Torre, chair of the FBU in Essex, said: "Essex County Fire and Rescue Service like to portray themselves as a modern employer.
"However here they are forcing professional women out of their jobs and making life intolerable for many of those who remain.
"The vast majority of the control operators are women, many with young families and caring responsibilities. They have professional careers that they need to balance with their family lives.
"These shift changes are unfair and completely unnecessary as there are alternatives on the table that cost the same but would be more manageable for all those working in the control room today and in the future.
"It's time the fire authority listened to their control staff properly and for common-sense to prevail."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, March 12, 2015