Firefighters vote for 24-hour strike action

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The Independent Online
Nine out of 10 Merseyside firefighters have voted to step up their seven- week campaign of industrial action in protest at compulsory job losses.

In a turnout of more than 80 per cent, members of the Fire Brigades Union voted by 1,160 to 127 to lengthen strikes from nine to 24 hours in a dispute which is considered to have strong nation-wide implications.

A confidential letter from the Home Office has warned that the Army's "Green Goddess" appliances, which have been used during the stoppages, may be not able to cope with the longer walkouts, but management argues that the prediction was based on a "misunderstanding". The first day-long strike is scheduled to begin at 9am on Wednesday next week.

Ken Cameron, general secretary of the FBU, described the vote as "overwhelming" and said it showed the increased determination of his members to fight cutbacks which mean 20 redundancies and the loss of three days' annual leave a year.

Both Whitehall officials and union officers agreed yesterday that other fire authorities throughout Britain may take a similarly tough line over cutbacks if Merseyside management prevails in the dispute.

Mr Cameron said the fire authority should now re-examine alternative proposals to save the required pounds 700,000.