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Firefighters on strike and army in the streets

14.11.2002 18:31

UK firefighters have returned to work having completed a 48 hour strike, only the second time in UK history the fire service has removed its labour. Their demands for an increase of 40% in salary, would leave them taking home a mere £8.50 an hour and has so far been dismissed by the Labour party, who themselves voted for an increase in their own salary of 40% in June last year. Throughout the country widespread support has been shown by the public, most notably through the beeping of car horns as cars pass picket lines.

Negotiations of the
Fire Brigade Union with the National Fire Service Employers broke off on Tuesday after the Labour government twice intervened in the talks. During the days of negotiations the government repeatedly released warnings about imminent terrorist threats, and on Thursday Deputy Prime Minister Prescott threatened to order troops to take control of red fire engines if an eight-day strike goes ahead next Friday.

Even though contingency plans were not finalized as late as 4 hours before the strike began, soldiers were ordered to provide cover. Many of these troops were supposed to be in combat training to go to Iraq and are not trained firefighters. Seven people died in blazes and accidents even though firefighters on strike rushed out to help in emergencies in Wales, the South West, the North East, Manchester, Cumbria, Scotland and London [report].

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