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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Anger smoulders despite deal
By Fred Brenton
for BBC News Online Scotland

Firefighters' banner
Firefighters were resigned to the deal
After nine months, 15 days of strikes and endless rounds of talks, the long-running firefighters' dispute came to an end with little evident satisfaction at the outcome.

Fire Brigades Union leaders might appear satisfied with securing the 16% pay deal for their members but at grassroots level firefighters appear more disenchanted than overjoyed.

There was no elation among firefighters outside the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, the venue FBU delegates chose to gather to debate and finally vote on the deal.

Grassroots members were sceptical of goodwill between their FBU bosses, the government and their local authority employers.

Edinburgh firefighter and conference observer David Ballantyne, 32, said: "I don't think you'll find any firefighters who really agree with the deal.

'Backed into a corner'

"The only reason most members have voted to accept the offer is because it's the last opportunity where we can have some input on the outcome of the deal.

"If we don't accept now then the government will just impose a deal on us and we'll lose our right to have a real say in anything affecting us. We've basically been backed into a corner."

While Stevie Thomson, 36, branch FBU chair of Bo'ness station in the Central Scotland Brigade, hinted at internal FBU unrest.

"This whole deal is shocking and ludicrous," he said.

David Ballantyne
The only reason most members have voted to accept the offer is because it's the last opportunity where we can have some input on the outcome of the deal
David Ballantyne

"Among those that accepted the deal, I think a lot of it comes down to a lack of faith in the union's executive council.

"I don't think things are as clear-cut in the voting on the deal as they have been and will be made out to be in the media."

Bill Wilson, FBU station representative for Greenock, added: "The government knew what they were doing all along and knew it would come to this.

"They can push through anything they want and this is the perfect example of that going on.

"The way firefighters have been treated has created a lot of ill will towards the Labour Government and nobody I know is happy with this deal.

"There is a lot of bad feeling within the service and I don't think this is the end of the story.

"Give it another three or four years and there will be strikes again."

The doors were closed to journalists as delegates discussed the pay offer and the warning was there from some FBU members that they will shut up shop again should this deal prove unsatisfactory.


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