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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 06:53 GMT
Living on a fireman's wage
Sheila and Jon Robins
Sheila and Jon Robins have been married for 10 years
The firefighters' strikes are effecting everyone but what is it like for the families of these men and women?

Sheila Robins, 40, has been married for 10 years to Jon, a firefighter on the Blue Watch at West Norwood.

If all the planned firefighters' strikes go ahead her husband will only take home 400 in December.

Here she gives her thoughts on the dispute.

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We've had to write to family and friends and say we can't give you Christmas presents at all this year. They've all been very supportive.

I'm right behind Jon and we'll make sure there's no issue between us but what else can we do?

When you see how much is being taken away you realise how little he earns.


We just want the pay rise to be enough to make a difference

Sheila Robins
Jon can tell you he earns exactly 21,531. He knows it to the pound. The fireman's wage covers the mortgage, household bills, gas, electricity and council tax.

My wage covers the food. I earn about 4,000 as a secondary school learning support assistant. I top that up with child minding.

We also receive child benefit which is a whopping 60 a month. And that's it, that's what we live on.

We are just treading water financially. We can never save for anything. We don't even have 50 to spare to put away each month.

'Make Christmas'

If we want to do anything special we have to put it on credit and Jon has to try and get decorating work to pay it off.

But I don't want him to have to work extra. He's so tired from working anyway. He shouldn't have to.

We just want the pay rise to be enough to make a difference.

If it gets sorted out before the strikes go ahead, it will make this Christmas really special.

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