Firefighters due to go on strike today

London firefighters were due to strike today in protest against plans for a new shift system after last-ditch talks between the Fire Brigades Union and the capital's fire brigade collapsed last night.

The brigade wants to change the current 15-hour night shift and nine-hour day shift to provide a longer day shift. Members of the FBU are due to stop work for eight hours from 10am today, forcing the capital's fire brigade to hire contract staff to provide cover.

The union is also planning a two-day strike from 5 November, which will include bonfire night and 6 November, when scores of firework displays will be held.

London's Fire Authority signed a £9m five-year contract last year with the firm AssetCo to provide a contingency level of fire and rescue services if firefighters were not available because of pandemic illness, industrial action, natural disaster or catastrophic incident.

The brigade wants to change the current 15-hour night shift and nine-hour day shift to provide a longer day shift, saying that firefighters will continue to work two day shifts followed by two night shifts then have four days off.

The union has accused the capital's fire brigade of threatening firefighters with the sack if they don't agree to new shift patterns.

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