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TAKING STRIKE ACTION MUCH DIFFERENT TO VOTING FOR IT

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The decision by firefighters to vote for strike action is one thing - taking it and putting the public at risk is q...
The decision by firefighters to vote for strike action is one thing - taking it and putting the public at risk is quite another Cosla president Pat Watters said today.

Cllr Watters also stressed that a 40-50 per cent pay rise for every uniformed member of the fire service immediately without any changes to the service is as unrealistic as it is unaffordable and that there are no winners during or after strike action.

Commenting on the outcomeof the FBU ballot for industrial action Mr Watters said: 'Voting for strike action and using that as a strong bargaining tool is part and parcel of normal pay bargaining. Indeed throughout the ballot period we have heard the union telling their membership 'vote for a strike to avoid a strike.'

'If that was, and hopefully still is their true message then let them prove it. Wait for the outcome of the independent review which, after all, is less than two months away and then consider what action, if any, to take.

'People won't understand the ins and outs of pay formulae or indexation but what they will understand, and support I imagine, is a realistic pay increase which recognises the valuable and vital role firefighters have.

'Lets face it a 40-50 per cent pay rise for every uniformed member of the fire service immediately without any changes to the service is as unrealistic as it is unaffordable.

'No employee would expect that level of increase in one go and no member of the public would accept that as a realistic claim which has to be pursued through damaging strike action.'

Mr Watters continued: 'There are no winners during or after strike action. The aftermath of previous national strikes is all too vivid in the minds of many and still pervades the lives of some.

'We, the national employers, have recognised that fire-fighters salaries need to be increased. The government have set up the independent review for that that purpose. Why can't the FBU recognise that - it could be that the FBU would accept the outcome of the review, of course, I do not know that, but more importantly neither does the FBU.

'Let's hope that it's never too late to re-engage in meaningful dialogue in an effort to end the dispute before it starts.

'I am willing to meet the FBU along with my fellow members of the national employers, anytime - are they?'

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