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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 18:09 GMT
Firefighter: 'We are very angry'
Nigel Stroud
Nigel Stroud - centre, standing - says changes have been made
As the firefighters' union considers calls to begin official strike action over pay, BBC News Online talks to Hereford firefighter Nigel Stroud, 41, about the crisis.

There's a lot of very angry people, but we're not in favour of these wildcat strikes.

There's no unofficial action at my brigade, although I heard that Gloucester have gone out.

Our union reps are meeting today and we're very angry, absolutely fuming, but I'm sure our own union officials have some blame.

Suddenly it's been a backward step.

We feel that we've achieved a lot of what was asked of us.

At Hereford and Worcester, we were maybe more advanced in the changes required than other brigades.

'Reneged'

All of a sudden, we had a letter from local government detailing the changes and the ambiguous areas. We needed time to sort them out.

The next day we were told we were getting 3.5% and not 7%, and the auditors are not starting any work until January.

Initially, we weren't told that the pay rise was being backdated - that's come out in the last couple of days.

I think people might be reluctant to walk out the door again because that was a horrible experience
A lot of people feel the employers have reneged on the deal, and a lot of time and effort went into sorting this out in the early part of the year.

Most of the work has been achieved, for instance, working in the community and giving fire safety advice to targeted groups such as the elderly.

We've lost two jobs per watch since the deal, with maybe two more going in the future.

But I don't agree with the unofficial action. I think it's playing a dangerous game because they are illegal strikes and it's a knee-jerk reaction.

We should keep it legal and have a proper ballot on this.

Risk

I think people might be reluctant to walk out the door again because that was a horrible experience and it's still fresh in people's minds.

Answering 999 calls only would be more acceptable.

There would be quite a big risk of losing public support, which would be quite natural.

But we were victims of spin in the last dispute, because our message did not get across and some papers printed lies.

In this dispute, I think the employers should give us a greater proportion of the pay rise, to reflect the changes we have made.



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