Government plans to impose pay deal on Fire Service

The
Government plans to introduce new legislation to allow it to specify the pay,
terms and conditions of the Fire Service.

Deputy
Prime Minister John Prescott told Parliament that the powers could be used to
help end the fire dispute, if necessary.

The
Government also proposes powers to direct the Fire Service on its objectives
and use of facilities and assets. Prescott said it would take ‘some weeks’ to
put the changes in place.

The
new measures will build on provisions in the Fire Services Act 1947, which were
repealed in 1959.

Prescott
said the "time had come to take a further step to break the
deadlock". He stressed that the Bain review is the only basis for
negotiations and that the government’s position "will not change".

The
Secretary of State added that he had concluded the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
was not serious about reaching a negotiated settlement to the dispute:
"The employers are now rightly insisting – in the light of the last two
months of strike action – that talks cannot take place while strikes are in
progress or threatened. As yesterday’s decision by the FBU showed, the union is
determined to press ahead with further strikes. As a result, negotiations have
broken down and we are in deadlock.

"The
Fire Service is not like any other industry. The public cannot be put at risk
on a weekly or monthly basis. It is essential to resolve this dispute."

It
is estimated that the dispute has so far cost taxpayers more than £70m.

By Quentin Reade

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