THE city’s parliamentary candidate for Labour said emergency services should not be subject to “bullying” in negotiations over new firefighter contracts.

Lynn Denham said her party shares the concerns of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) over threats to sack and re-hire firefighters in Hereford and Worcester on new 10-hour duty shift contracts.

The change comes after recent EU and High Court rulings have branded current shift patterns unlawful and the FBU has refused to sign up to them.

Last month, Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority voted to carry on with placing the new shift on its firefighters if agreements between the fire service and the FBU could not be reached.

Every Conservative member of the authority voted in favour of the proposal, but Labour see the heavy-handed approach as unnecessary.

City councillor Lynn Denham said: “I am appalled by the way that some members of the fire authority have voted to treat our brave firefighters.

“We are all aware that changes to shift patterns must be made in Hereford and Worcester, but this is an attempt at bullying, not negotiation.

“We should be listening to the experts on the frontline. Essential emergency services are not the place for penny-pinching and cut backs.”

Andrew Scattergood, West Midlands Regional Secretary for the FBU, said: “The FBU is appalled by the situation we have been put in by the Fire Authority.

“The threat to sack our members so they can impose new contracts is a disgraceful way to treat firefighters.

“Management within the service have completely abandoned negotiations on this matter and the FBU will not be intimidated by draconian threats to force us to agree inferior shift systems that not only affect our members, but also the public we serve.

“I hope the Fire Authority sees sense and removes this threat quickly, otherwise we will continue to look at all our options, including industrial action, to defend our members from this attack.”

Labour councillor Richard Udall, who sits on the fire authority, agreed changes needed to be made to firefighters' shift patterns but the ultimatum should be withdrawn.