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Firefighter dispute Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 22:53 GMT
Further strikes loom
A firefighter stands behind a brazier on the picket line
After a sustained period of talks, union leaders have urged their members not to accept a pay deal - paving the way for further strikes.

6 March: Unions members urged to reject pay deal

Firemen on the picket line
Firemen on the picket line
Local authorities said their offer of a 16% increase, staged over three years and linked to changes in working practices, was "exceptional" and would lead to a 25,000 salary within 15 months.

4 February: Fire union holds off on strikes

Firefighters at work
Firefighters at work
Fire Brigade Union leader Andy Gilchrist says no new strike dates will be set following the 'constructive' intervention of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. Mr Gilchrist said the FBU will now return to the negotiating table.

29 January: TUC calls for talks

Andy Gilchrist
Andy Gilchrist
The TUC is asking the government for urgent talks following its threat to impose a pay rise on striking firefighters. The TUC general secretary elect, Brendan Barber, said union leaders would meet the FBU leaders to see if they could help to restart negotiations.

28 January: Prescott threatens take over

As the latest 48-hour firefighters' strike began, the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, said the government would introduce new legal powers to take control of the fire service and impose a pay settlement.

27 January: 48-hour strike to go ahead

Strikers keeping warm
Strikers keeping warm

Firefighters' leaders say they will continue with a 48-hour strike which is scheduled to begin at 0900 GMT on Tuesday. The decision follows talks in London by the FBU executive. The stoppage is to be followed by another 48-hour walk-out on 1 February.

21 January: Firefighters stage third strike

Firefighters prepare for a 24 hour strike
Strike preparations

A total of 19,000 members of the armed forces take over the duties of firefighters as they stage a third walkout of the ongoing dispute over pay and reforms. A Mori survey indicates continuing public support for their stance.

20 January: Strike to go ahead as talks fail

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
John Prescott

The Fire Brigades Union confirms a 24-hour walkout will go ahead following the failure of last minute talks with ministers. In the Commons, Deputy PM John Prescott says the country is in a better position to cope than before.

10 January 2003: New strike called

Firefighters on strike
Firefighters on strike

Firefighters' leaders announce plans for a fresh 24-hour strike and say talks with employers will be pointless without an improved pay offer. The first of the latest strikes will take place on 21 January.

16 December: Review urges reform

Sir George Bain
Sir George Bain

A review of the fire service chaired by Sir George Bain proposes an 11% rise in firefighters' pay over two years coupled with changes to their working practices. Sir George says the report is an opportunity to improve the service.

11 December: Firefighters' strike suspended

The Army was ready to cover the strike
The Army was ready to cover the strike

Firefighters' leaders suspend the next eight-day strike, due to start on 16 December. However, the executive of the Fire Brigades Union sets a new date for a 48-hour strike on 27 January. The move is to allow further talks aimed at resolving the pay dispute.

07 December: Firefighters' rally


Firefighters' union leader Andy Gilchrist uses a mass rally in London to tell the government not to intervene in pay negotiations or risk further strikes. Nine thousand firefighters and trade unionists attend the rally in Hyde Park.

06 December: 'Useful exchange' in fire talks

Leader of the local authority employers delegation Charles Nolda
The meeting was described as 'very useful'

Fire service employers describe a meeting with the arbitration service Acas as 'very useful', but there is no sign of a settlement. But they warned there is not yet any sign of a negotiated settlement in the bitter pay dispute, or of renewed face-to-face talks with the Fire Brigades Union.

04 December: Union 'will fight fire cuts'

Andy Gilchrist
Acas mediation offers 'a glimmer of hope'

Andy Gilchrist leaves talks at the conciliation service Acas after 90 minutes. The Fire Brigades Union leader vowed to fight to prevent the government reducing numbers of firefighters on duty at night, saying the move would put the public at risk.

02 December: Third strike is called off

FBU leader Andy Gilchrist
Andy Gilchrist says "talking will begin this week, not striking"

The FBU announces that its third strike, planned for Wednesday, will no longer go ahead. In a statement, FBU leader Andy Gilchrist says the union will take part in "exploratory talks" with the conciliation service Acas aimed at securing a "positive way forward".

Fire strike review 'backs reform case'

Tony Blair visits a military base
The 15-page report assesses military performance

Downing Street releases a statistical breakdown of how troops have responded during the strikes. It is expected to use the report as evidence that working practices can be safely changed. Meanwhile the FBU is set to decide whether to call fresh strikes in the New Year.

01 December: Ministers 'dishonest' about strikes

The Conservatives have accused the government of
The Conservatives have accused the government of "dishonesty"

The government is said to be considering introducing laws to ban future walk-outs by firefighters. But the Shadow Chancellor, Michael Howard, says the government already has the legal power to ban the stoppages if it wanted to, and is being "dishonest".

30 November: Fire union leader attacks government

Fire Brigades Union leader Andy Gilchrist
Andy Gilchrist says the government's stance won't stop the strikes

FBU leader Andy Gilchrist launches a scathing attack on the government, warning that firefighters' resolve will not break as a third strike looms. He says the unions should consider ending their links with a Labour government that treats workers with contempt.

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See also:

17 Feb 03 | Firefighter dispute
25 Nov 02 | Firefighter dispute
25 Nov 02 | Firefighter dispute
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