Firefighters in new strike threat

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The Independent Online

Leaders of the Fire Brigades Union will meet tomorrow to discuss possible strike action after the agreement that ended the dispute in June this year came unstuck.

Under that agreement, firefighters would receive a 7 per cent pay rise on 7 November, on condition that modernisation of the service had been implemented.

But the Fire Brigades National Employers wrote to the union's general secretary, Andy Gilchrist, on Friday, saying the Audit Commission could not begin its verification of the modernisation until January. Until the completion of the audit, expected to be by March next year, firefighters would receive only a 3.5 per cent rise at the end of this week, the letter said.

June's deal also stipulated that all negotiations should be completed - but some negotiations were still outstanding.

"It's not our fault the Audit Commission can't produce their findings until next spring," said a union official.

"We don't want to go on strike. Sometimes you have to make your voice heard."