Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 15:25 UK

Rally for strike vote fire crews


Firefighters say they will strike unless the threat of job losses is lifted

Firefighters from across the UK have held a rally in support of colleagues in South Yorkshire who are involved in a dispute over shifts.

About 2,000 members attended the event on May Day Green in Barnsley on Monday.

Fire crews in South Yorkshire voted in favour of strike action last week over plans to enforce new shift patterns.

The fire service wants crews to work 12-hour day and night shifts, instead of the current nine-hour days and 15-hour nights.

A protest was also held outside the county's fire authority in Barnsley.

Organisers said the events had been "colourful, noisy and well-behaved".

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has accused the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service of threatening to sack 744 firefighters to force through employment contracts.

Agreement sought

The union says members will strike within weeks unless the threat of job losses is lifted.

The fire service said the "minor change" to shift times would increase productivity and available training time for firefighters, making them and the public safer.

The FBU said the proposed longer day shift would cause "havoc" with members' childcare arrangements.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told the rally: "The fire authority can't run away from their threat to sack 744 firefighters in South Yorkshire to impose new contracts.

"There is nothing modern about using the tactics of 1930s pit owners and trampling on the basic rights of workers."

He added: "Firefighters want a negotiated agreement, and that is still possible."

No date for strike action has been set while negotiations between the two parties continue.

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