BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 10:13 GMT
Firefighting 'militants' shunned
firemen grab
Firefighters defend their demand in low-pay areas
Tension is growing between full-time firefighters and their voluntary colleagues in Devon as the countdown to the national firefighters strike begins.

The majority of Devon's fire stations are run by retained firefighters who are not taking action because their union has a no-strike policy.

Mike Burden of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which represents the full-time firefighters going on strike at 1800 GMT, says attitudes have begun to harden.

He said: "Relations were good, but I believe they are starting to deteriorate now because we are being seen as the militants, the strikers.

Firefighters balance
Cornwall: 181 full-timers and 425 retained staff
Devon: 557 full-time firefighters and 744 retained
"The retained firefighters see themselves as the good guys and do not want to be associated with full-timers who are going on strike."

Tom Radford, chair of the Retained Firefighters Union in Devon, says they will only provide cover outside their normal areas if people's lives are at risk.

He said: "We are doing our best not to antagonise the full-timers. We will not be going onto their stations and we will keep to our own wherever possible.

"The only time when we would go into full-time stations is if there are people's lives reported at risk."

In Cornwall it is estimated nearly half of those retained members of the FBU will support their full-time colleagues in the strike.

Mike Tremellen, chairman of the FBU in Cornwall, said: "We all respect everyone's decision to strike or not to strike.

"It is a hard situation, but we have told everyone to treat their colleagues equally."

Demand 'justified'

He said that support for the strike was holding up well in the county where the average wage is less than 17,000 a year.

The FBU is calling for 30,000 a year for qualified firefighters - a 40% increase.

"Other workers in Cornwall are paid vastly under the national average wage," he said.

"We are a national fire service and firefighters in Cornwall do the same job as anywhere else."

The strike will continue for 48 hours until 1800 GMT on Friday.

Retained firefighters will be supported by five army-operated Green Goddesses in Cornwall and 12 based around Devon.

The Ministry of Defence will be co-ordinating Green Goddess coverage from HMS Drake in Plymouth.


Click here to go to Devon

Click here to go to BBC Cornwall

Key stories

Features and analysis

How they compare

In pictures

CLICKABLE GUIDE

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

13 Nov 02 | England
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes