Firefighters threaten official strike over pay

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The Independent Online

Leaders of the firefighters' union have given management until Monday to implement a 7 per cent pay rise in full or face the prospect of official national strikes.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) urged members to abandon wildcat industrial action yesterday but said "all options are open" if local authorities insist the rise will be paid in two stages. Management negotiators have offered 3.5 per cent immediately and the rest when changes in working practices have been verified by the Audit Commission.

A spokesman for the FBU said firefighters had delivered far more improvements to productivity than was expected of them and were angry that the commission was unable to start work until next January. "They have had months to organise this. There is no reason why firefighters should suffer because employers have not done what they were supposed to do."

Leaders of the FBU confirmed their backing for the 7 per cent deal, signed in June to end the national fire dispute, but said there would be "no agreement" if management failed to pay it immediately.

A spokesman for the employers said yesterday that the Audit Commission had "very little to audit" until the changes in the agreement began to be delivered locally.