Fire dispute talks adjourned

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The Independent Online
Talks aimed at averting strikes by firefighters in Essex were adjourned last night and will resume today. Ken Cameron, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, met leaders of Essex County Council for more than five hours to try to settle a dispute over pounds 1.5m spending cuts.

The union is threatening a 24-hour strike on Saturday and a four-hour walkout next Monday unless the dispute is resolved. It says the cuts would lead to job losses and cutbacks in spending on training and equipment. Mr Cameron said earlier that he hoped the dispute could be resolved without industrial action, but made it clear it was up to the council to bring forward "meaningful proposals".

The Conservatives have seized on the threat of a strike to attack unions during the election campaign.