Talks over November 5th fire strike
Published 26/10/2010 | 11:32
Talks aimed at averting a strike by London firefighters on Bonfire Night will be held on Wednesday, the Fire Brigades Union said.
The union said its full negotiating team will attend the meeting with London Fire Brigade.
A spokesman said: "We hope that the fire brigade will engage properly with us so that we can stop this industrial action going ahead."
Thousands of members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have threatened to walk out for two days from November 5 in a row over new contracts, protesting that they faced the sack if they did not agree to different shift patterns.
Downing Street condemned the strike as "irresponsible", while Labour leader Ed Miliband made it clear he would not support the action.
The strike sparked an emergency debate in the Commons, with Labour and Conservative MPs clashing over who was to blame for the industrial unrest.
Fire minister Bob Neill said the strike was "old fashioned militant muscle-flexing", adding: "I find the threat of industrial action over the Bonfire Night period disgraceful."
He also accused FBU members of seeking to intimidate staff from a private firm drafted in to provide emergency cover during an eight-hour strike on Saturday.
A number of Labour MPs criticised the issuing of dismissal notices to firefighters and called on London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Government to intervene.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "We do not want to take this action but we have no choice. The alternative is to allow London's firefighters to become doormats for their employers to walk on."