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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 06:45 GMT
Fire union meets over strike plans
Striking firefighters march
Firefighters have already been on strike twice
Firefighters' leaders are due to begin a two-day meeting to discuss the chances of progress in the deadlocked pay dispute.

The executive of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is to begin the meeting on Tuesday, before deciding whether the next eight-day strike should go ahead.

Andy Gilchrist
Andy Gilchrist: has warned government

The next walkout - there have already been two - is set to last from 16 December to Christmas Eve.

Exploratory talks started last week at the conciliation service Acas, but there are no plans as yet for new negotiations between the FBU and local authority employers.

The union might decide to suspend the strike if Acas is upbeat about the talks, or could reduce action to 24 or 48 hours.

Local authority employers said they would be having a further meeting with Acas officials on Thursday.

'Shameful and incompetent'

FBU General Secretary, Andy Gilchrist, warned at the weekend that if the government had the "reckless audacity" to intervene in the dispute again, the strike would go ahead.

Mr Gilchrist, leading a 9,000-strong rally through London, said ministers' involvement had been "hambolic, shameful and incompetent".

The government vetoed a deal between the local authorities and the FBU which tabled a 16% pay rise - some of the extra money coming from the taxpayer.

The government said anything over 4% would have to be paid for through modernisation.

The final conclusions of an independent review of the fire service by by Sir George Bain are due to be published on 16 December.

Further industrial action is planned for January, February and March of next year.


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04 Dec 02 | UK
02 Dec 02 | Politics
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