General, HP, Surrey County Council, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Key facts ahead of public sector unions’ national strike

Ahead of Thursday’s national public sector strike, please find more details below:

Who is on national strike?

The following public sector unions will be on national strike tomorrow: the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU), UNISON, Unite, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and the GMB union.

When is the strike?

On Thursday, 10 July 2014 – from 10am to 7pm for striking firefighters and throughout the working day for other unions.

Why are the strikes happening?

The Fire Brigades’ Union strike is part of an ongoing national dispute between themselves and central Government over proposed changes to firefighters’ pensions.

The other public services unions taking part are striking over a pay dispute with central Government.

How are Surrey County Council-run services affected?

GMB and UNISON members who are Surrey County Council staff will not be involved in the national action because the council has separate local pay arrangements.

The NUT strike may affect some Surrey schools. For the latest, visit the school closures page.

Surrey employs no PCS members and, while some of its employees have links to Unite, none are expected to be on strike.

What fire cover will be provided?

Non-striking firefighters will give emergency cover to increase the number of fire engines available, and will be backed up by Surrey County Council’s contingency contract with private company Specialist Group International (SGI) to help keep our residents safe.

Specialist Group International’s crews have all completed the full 17-week firefighters’ training course which includes fighting a range of fires, wearing breathing apparatus and using specialist equipment to deal with vehicle accidents.

How many fire engines and staff will be available compared to normal non-strike cover?

Final figures will not be known until the strike begins. During the last strike on 21 June 2014, there were 11 fire engines compared to around 20 normally. The staff on shift during the strike period comprised SGI, non-striking firefighters and other staff.

Will firefighters be locked out of stations and be unpaid for the whole shift?

Firefighters will be free to access fire stations during strike hours. They will work and be paid as normal for the non-striking part of the shifts.

Will uniformed firefighters be allowed to picket outside their stations during the strike?

Striking firefighters can legitimately picket outside their place of work, but cannot wear uniform when not working.

Is there anything we can do to keep safe?

Specialist Group International and our non-striking firefighters will crew as many engines as possible during the strike. However, there will be fewer fire engines than normal, so it’s important residents take extra care.

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