Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Firefighters strike 'unavoidable'

The Fire Brigades Union said government leaders in England and Wales had failed to reach a compromise to prevent strikes
The Fire Brigades Union said government leaders in England and Wales had failed to reach a compromise to prevent strikes

A firefighters strike seems "unavoidable" in England and Wales in a row over pensions, according to the Fire Brigades Union.

The administrations in Westminster and Cardiff have "refused to reach a compromise" and an announcement of strike action is "likely to follow soon", the union said.

Revised proposals from the Scottish Government mean that industrial action may not proceed in Scotland, it added.

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: "As a result of the refusal of governments in Westminster and Cardiff to see sense on firefighter pensions, it now appears that strike action is unavoidable in England and Wales.

"Almost 80% of firefighters voted in favour of industrial action if no progress could be made, but we have tried everything to avoid strike action being necessary.

"Although we are some way from an agreement, the Scottish Government's decision to engage positively with firefighters, offer improved proposals and not set any arbitrary deadlines for talks demonstrates that progress can be made through talks when both sides are willing.

"It's not too late to avoid a strike: the governments of England and Wales must see sense, put public safety first and come back to the negotiating table willing to compromise."

Since announcing that almost 80% of members had voted in favour of strike action, the union has met representatives of the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Westminster as well as fire and rescue service employers.

The union's executive council met on Thursday to review these talks and consider the next steps.

On Friday, the executive council issued a statement to members saying it had "no option" but to call periods of strike action in England and Wales. It also said it would now consult and communicate with FBU members in Scotland and the UK on the proposals received thus far and the ongoing talks.

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