Fire strike off as new pay offer brings hope

Barrie Clement,Labour Editor
Wednesday 19 March 2003 01:00

An end to the seven-month-old fire dispute was closer last night after firefighters' leaders accepted a revised offer on pay and working conditions.

The Fire Brigades Union had been under mounting pressure to cancel a strike planned for tomorrow which raised the prospect of highly damaging images of soldiers fighting fires in Britain as their colleagues fought in battle in Iraq.

The latest proposal will be put to the 55,000 members during the next two weeks with a recommendation from the union's executive to accept.

Tomorrow's strike will be called off as firefighters digest the new offer, handed to the union by fire authority's representatives yesterday.

The government has sanctioned changes to a 16 per cent pay offer over three years which gives the union greater input into plans for sweeping changes to working practices.

At a time when Britain may be at war, the union will be under massive pressure to accept the new formulation.

The recommendation comes in the wake of four national strikes – only the second nation-wide action in the union's history – which has lasted a total of 15 days.

The proposed rise is a long way from the 40 per cent claim submitted last year, but officials of the FBU believe the 16 per cent wage increase will be acceptable to members.

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