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EDITIONS
Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 12:40 GMT
Sunday 17th November 2002
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott

Sunday 17th November 2002

On this week's programme, the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott urged the firefighters to "take the gun away" from their employers' heads, by calling off the eight-day strike due to start on Friday. But he welcomed indications that the Fire Brigades Union was ready to modify its original pay demand.

Looking forward to Monday's discussions between the firefighters' leader, Andy Gilchrist, and the local authority employers, Mr Prescott said:
"I hear in those discussions that the general secretary has said he is coming off his 40%, well after seven months that is very welcome and I understand it.

"Secondly, he has said that he ... has FBU modernisation plans. Well as we have always made clear, we are quite prepared to make an exceptional case, provided there is a connection between that and the modernisation of the service."

Mr Prescott said it was now time for further "proper negotiations" between the two sides:
"And I think we have to say also `can you take the gun away from our head' that there is going to be a strike on Friday, because that is not the way to negotiate. "I hope Andy Gilchrist has shown an indication to want to talk further, right, get in those talks, start looking at what happens."

But Mr Prescott made it clear that central government would not help fund any eventual settlement.

"You can still meet it and meet the Government's requirement that it will have to be funded not by extra money from the taxpayer but by a modernisation proposal."

Also on this week's programme, the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Edward George warned about the dangers for the economy of high public sector wage settlements. Asked about the firefighters' 40% demand, Sir Edward said:
"However much sympathy one may have with the conditions of work in different sectors, I think one has to recognise that if we got wage inflation driven by the threat of strike in this way, then that would impact the whole of the economy. "We would see not just inflation higher, we would see unemployment higher, and I think it would be very damaging indeed."

The programme included a discussion with Mazya Juel ("Miss Denmark"), who is leading the boycott by Miss World contestants of this year's competition in Nigeria, in protest at the death sentence passed on a Nigerian woman convicted of adultery.

There was also an interview with Peter Harrison - chairman and chief executive of the British America's cup challenge. The newspapers were reviewed by the broadcaster Joan Bakewell and the novelist Ken Follett.

To read the transcripts, click on the links below.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott MP

Sir Edward George, Governor of the Bank of England

Chairman and chief executive of the British America's cup challenge Peter Harrison

Masja Juel, Zaki Badawi and Peter Ogvonnaya


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