Clarke faces clash on firefighters' pay

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR is likely to face the biggest industrial challenge of his career this week because of the Government's insistence that Britain's 50,000 firefighters must stick to the 1.5 per cent pay limit for the public sector.

Leaders of the Fire Brigades' Union will call for a strike ballot if Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, refuses on Wednesday to honour firefighters' index-linked deal.

Ken Cameron, general secretary of the FBU, will demand an assurance from Mr Clarke that the Government will grant firefighters a pay increase in line with the top 25 per cent of male manual workers.

However, the Government is unlikely to make an exception and will adhere to the limit already applied to all other employees paid out of the public purse. The clash could lead to the first national firefighters' strike for 14 years. The last stoppage ended when the Government conceded the automatic annual pay rise for members of the FBU.

The Government is facing industrial action on other fronts, including the miners who intend to mount a 24-hour stoppage on 12 April. Railway workers' leaders are also due to disclose the result of a strike ballot this week.

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