Brave Men and Women Hobbled by Self-Interest

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 31, 2010 | Go to article overview

Brave Men and Women Hobbled by Self-Interest


NO ONE could doubt the bravery of our firefighters. Each day they go to work knowing that they may be called upon to put their lives at risk to rescue others.

From traffic accidents to house fires to terrorist atrocities, they confront fears and dangers that most of us hope to avoid our whole lives. They do so willingly, heroically.

How dismal then that these men and women of true courage should be so illserved by those claiming to represent their best interests.

This year members of the London Fire Brigade plan to start a 47-hour strike over Bonfire Night in protest over proposed changes in shift patterns. At present they work two nine-hour day shifts and two 15-hour night shifts followed by four days off.

Now we learn that 1,780 of these officers hold second, and even third, jobs. Many of them claim a London allowance while living outside the capital - some as far afield as Spain.

What possible justification can the Fire Brigades Union offer for resisting changes to work patterns so ripe for exploitation and steeped in self-interest? The sorry truth is that, over the past decade, our public services have been increasingly run for the people who work for them, rather than those they serve.

And, bit by bit, firefighters, ambulance workers and police officers have been hobbled by those claiming to defend them while nurturing vested interests. …

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