OPINION: Talks must begin again

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For all of our emergency services the safety and security of the public is paramount. They do a job which is a tough and dangerous one. And for that we thank them.

Whenever there is a problem between the workers and management it is a course for concern.

Today we’ve revealed that South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue will mothball two fire engines because of a dispute over new working conditions.

Taking life-saving apparatus from our streets is a worry.

The units are obviously needed or they wouldn’t exist in the first place.

Whenever cuts are made to a service it will suffer – no matter what PR spin is sent out to reassure us.

In this case it is because the Fire Brigades Union has objected to a new practice known as ‘close-proximity crewing’ which would have led to night shifts being axed at some stations.

Firefighters working days would have remained at their stations in living accommodation on an on-call basis, to respond to emergency calls in the evenings and early hours.

Fire chiefs claim the move – which was proposed for a trial at Low Edges fire station in Sheffield and Aston Park in Rotherham – would have saved £400,000 for each station involved.

Clearly this would involve disruption to the lives of the firefighters involved, but which of us can honestly say our working practices haven’t altered over the years.

Particularly in recent times, as money has become tight and budgets have been squeezed, we are all being asked to do more with less.

We may not like it, but it is just the way of the world.

Firefighters do a terrific job and go into places where others wouldn’t.

Their bravery is without question.

However, in every negotiation there has got to be some give and take.

The public are sympathetic for the most part to industrial disputes but that can begin to run thin if a vital service begins to suffer.

We would urge management and union to get round the negotiating table and begin talks again.