Firefighters to vote on strike action as pay talks fail

Firefighters
are set to start voting on whether to launch a series of fresh strikes
following the collapse of long-running pay talks.

More
than 50,000 members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are to be sent ballot
papers, raising the threat of a walkout early next month.

The
union claimed that local authority employers had turned a "shambles into a
crisis" after a deal to pay firefighters a 3.5 per cent rise from November
2003 and another 4.2 per cent from last month was scuppered at the last minute.

Employers
also want bank holidays to be treated as a normal working day, but the FBU said
this could mean extra staff having to work on public holidays at a cost of £30m
a year.

The
union said it believed many fire authority employers were pressing for a
meeting to try to resolve the dispute.

The
ballot will run until 31 August and the result will be known soon afterwards.

By Mike Berry

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