Bonfire night strike talks break down

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The Independent Online

Talks aimed at averting a Bonfire Night strike by firefighters in London broke down without agreement today.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union are due to walk out for two days from November 5 in a row over new contracts.

Union leaders held talks with London Fire Authority officials this morning which ended without agreement.

A union spokesman complained that fire authority chairman Brian Coleman and chief fire officer Ron Dobson did not attend the talks.

"Regrettably, the brigade representatives in attendance had nothing new to say to us.

"The authority's proposals on new working hours would seriously disrupt firefighters' family lives and lead to cuts in fire cover.

"All the same, the authority does not have to reach agreement with us on shifts to get us to call off the strikes. They just have to withdraw the sacking notices that were sent out on August 11.

"Our message is that we will cancel all planned strikes if the brigade agrees to lift the mass sackings. We can then negotiate a fair settlement as equal parties."

Mr Coleman said: "The compromise of an 11 hour day and 13 hour night shift is achievable through talks, and the FBU have today walked away.

"Our message is simple - call off the strikes now and meet us on November 5 at the Resolution Advisory Panel which has the ability to resolve this dispute.

"The continuing determination by the FBU to take strike action is unnecessary, unjustified and will be viewed unsympathetically by Londoners. This dispute centres on proposed changes to make Londoners even safer from fires."