Belfast Telegraph

No end to London firefighters row

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

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.

Pay rises coming up short

Most pay deals were worth between 2% and 3% in recent months, below the rate of inflation, a study showed today. An analysis of settlements mainly in private firms, covering 1.5m workers, revealed a fall in the number of higher end increases. Fewer than one in five of the 69 settlements studied by IDS was worth 3% or more, with a similar number of pay freezes in the three months to September. Average rises in the public sector were worth 2%, although recent settlements were part of long-term deals agreed before the announcement of a pay freeze for workers.

Franchisors get a hand up

Entrepreneurs across Belfast and Lisburn thinking of setting up or growing their own franchises are being invited to take part in two business development programmes run by both councils. For information contact Belfast City Council's economic development unit on 028 9050 0518 or go to the council website Closing date for applications to both programmes is November 11. Both will run over six months until June 2011.

Bank's UK profits soar 53%

The owner of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks increased UK profits by 53% after it advanced £4.7bn of new loans and saw fewer bad debts. National Australia Bank reported subdued demand for credit but said it was on track to deliver a two-year lending commitment of £10bn. The UK business, which has 400 branches and 8,355 staff, said it was attracting growing numbers of small and mid-corporate firms after £2.7bn of lending to business in the year to date.