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FIREFIGHTERS THREATEN NATIONAL STRIKE

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Contingency plans are being drawn up as firefighters threatened their first national strike in 25 years in a row ov...
Contingency plans are being drawn up as firefighters threatened their first national strike in 25 years in a row over pay, reported The Observer (p13).

Leaders of the Fire Brigades Union warned at a march in Belfast at the weekend that they are prepared to hold a nationwide walkout if they do not win a new pay formula. During the strike in 1977the Army's 'green goddess' fire engines answered emergency calls for nine weeks.

Fire crews have been waging a national campaign for a rise in the average wage for an experienced firefighter from£21,500 a year to£30,000. The formula at the centre of the protest was drawn up after the 1977 stoppage and linked firefighters' pay to that of male manual workers. The union claims the formula is outdated.

The rally in Norther Ireland followed similar demonstrations in recent weeks in Swansea, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow. FBU spokesman Jim Barbour claimed that firefighters' earnings 'in no way reflect the difficult and often very dangerous job we do, not least here in Northern Ireland'.

He added: 'We have said all along that we want to avoid confrontation. This remains the case. However, we are determined that our firefighters should receive the proper salary for the professional job they do. We are not asking for special treatment, but fair treatment.'

Another London rally is planned for 2 September to coincide with talks between the FBU and the employers. A vote for strike action at the union's annual conference on 12 September could lead to a stoppage as soon as October.

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