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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 19:49 GMT
Firefighters walk out on strike
West Midlands firefighters on strike
West Midlands firefighters walked out on strike on Monday
Firefighters in the West Midlands have started a strike after last-minute peace talks broke down.

They are staging a three-hour walk-out in a dispute over changes to shift patterns and payments. They are due back at work at 2100 GMT.

It is the first time crews have gone on strike independently of other areas. Armed forces are providing 999 cover.

Andy Dennis, from the FBU, told News 24 that firefighters had done everything they could to avoid a strike.

'Reasonable and fair'

"We don't take strike action lightly and obviously there could be a danger to members of the public," he said.

"But push comes to shove, this issue has been outstanding since March and June, way back earlier this year. We've done everything within our power to reach an agreement.

"We're asking them to put forward a reasonable and fair offer that addresses those three points (of dispute), when they do that we'll get a professional service back on the streets"

FBU members unanimously rejected a revised offer from the fire service on Sunday night.

A second strike will take place on Thursday morning with a third date set for next week.

'Extreme disappointment'

An offer to compensate staff for working anti-social hours and for additional travel costs following the introduction of a new shift system was rejected.

West Midlands' chief fire officer, Frank Sheehan, said he was disappointed that the FBU had rejected a management offer without putting it to a vote of union members for the third time in three days.

He said a number of points had been clarified and some improvements made in the latest offer put to the FBU.

"Again, let me express my extreme disappointment at this decision," he said.

A task force made up of 380 joint service personnel, equipped with 26 modern fire engines will provide basic emergency firefighting cover during the three-hour period.

The tenders have been stationed at 11 Territorial Army centres and one police station.

More than 2,000 union members took part in a ballot last month and voted three to one in favour of strike action.


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See why the firefighters are striking



SEE ALSO:
Fire strike on Blitz anniversary
13 Nov 05 |  West Midlands
Firefighters to strike in dispute
11 Nov 05 |  West Midlands
Firefighters to strike over hours
08 Nov 05 |  West Midlands
Talks held to prevent fire strike
07 Nov 05 |  West Midlands
Fire crews vote for strike action
04 Nov 05 |  West Midlands
Firefighters balloted over action
10 Oct 05 |  West Midlands


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