Firefighters set to vote over strike action

Thousands
of firefighters will start voting tomorrow on whether to strike over pay in the
long-running dispute with local authority employers.

Union
leaders had been meeting employers to try to break the deadlock, but they
failed to reach a deal to settle what they say is a 3.5 per cent pay rise
outstanding since November, and a further 4.2 per cent owed since 1 July.

The
dispute flared up following a hitch to the agreement that ended a series of
strikes in 2002 and 2003. The Fire Brigades Union has accused employers of ‘turning
a shambles into a crisis’.

A
stalemate over ‘stand-down time’ during night shifts was broken during
negotiations last Thursday. That related to whether firefighters should have to
undertake training or other duties while waiting for a call out.

Military
personnel are presently undergoing training to step in if firefighters vote for
industrial action.

By
Michael Millar

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