Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 09:13 UK

Last-ditch talks over shift row

Firefighter (generic)
An alternative to the proposed shift patterns has been rejected.

Last-ditch talks are being held to try to avert a strike by firefighters in South Yorkshire.

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

The Fire Brigades Union has proposed 10-hour shifts, but the authority said it was committed to the 12-hour shifts.

FBU members voted in favour of strike action last month but dates were not set so talks could continue.

Negotiations between the fire authority and union are taking place on Monday afternoon at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service's headquarters in Sheffield.

The fire service said adding three hours to the day shift from the less-productive night shift would result in improved services and more time to train firefighters.

But the FBU said the changes would have a "massive impact" on family life and childcare for its members.

FBU members voted in favour of strike action last month after those who continued to refuse to work the 12-hour shifts were threatened with dismissal.

The organisation's regional secretary Ian Murray said if no deal was agreed at Monday's meeting, then dates for strike action could be announced "imminently".

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