Dispute could cost lives - Suffolk MP

MPS from Suffolk attacked fire-fighters' decision to go ahead with their eight-day strike.Shadow trade secretary and South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo feared a tragedy during the industrial action.

MPS from Suffolk attacked fire-

fighters' decision to go ahead with their eight-day strike.

Shadow trade secretary and South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo feared a tragedy during the industrial action.

"I'm afraid this strike is going to put lives at risk and I very much regret that," he said.

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"I think most people who have ever called out the fire service have been very impressed, but a lot of that goodwill will be lost if a strike of this length puts lives at risk."

Mr Yeo said the firefighters' pay claim was "unrealistically high" and added: "I haven't heard anyone who thinks 40 per cent is justified under any circumstances. It would be much better for talks to continue."

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Talks aimed at averting the strike collapsed yesterday after the Local Government Association put

forward a pay offer amounting to 16pc over two years – giving

qualified firefighters basic pay of £25,000 a year by November 2003 – in return for delivery of a radical programme of change.

However, union leaders, campaigning for officers' pay to rise to £30,000, insisted the offer was only worth 4pc, with future increases linked to modernisation.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole had said employers should keep in touch with the government to check what money was available before making an offer which could not be


Before the start of strike action, Suffolk Chief Fire Officer Malcolm Alcock said: "Nobody is pretending we can do what we normally do.

"Quite clearly there would be an additional risk to life as a result. This is obviously giving us some cause for concern."

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