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Strike set as last resort

PUBLISHED: 08:46 10 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:27 03 March 2010

UNION bosses have warned Suffolk firefighters are prepared to go on strike if a national dispute over pay is not resolved.

But industrial action would be "an absolute last resort" to lobby the Local Government Association (LGA) to boost the pay of qualified officers to £30,000.

UNION bosses have warned Suffolk firefighters are prepared to go on strike if a national dispute over pay is not resolved.

But industrial action would be "an absolute last resort" to lobby the Local Government Association (LGA) to boost the pay of qualified officers to £30,000.

The final meeting between the national firefighting union and the LGA is on September 2 and if the deadlock is not broken, there is "every possibility" of a strike.

Paul Woolstenholmes, county secretary of the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU), said: "Not a single firefighter or control room worker wants to go on strike, but we are prepared to take industrial action to achieve a decent standard of living.

"We are proud of the job we do and we are proud of the service we provide, but pats on the back do not pay the bills."

The union is campaigning for firefighters' pay to be increased to £30,000 after four years' service. It took the fight to the streets of Ipswich today, where people visiting the Cornhill added their support by a signing a petition.

But Peter Monk, a member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee and the LGA's fire forum, said the firefighters were wrong to dismiss the inquiry into pay.

"It's difficult to understand their reasoning and I'm puzzled why the FBU are reticent to agree to it. It is an independent review, so nobody should have any fears and I really don't feel there should be a strike while this offer is on the table," he added.

Suffolk Deputy Chief Fire Officer Ken Seager said: "We are hopeful the situation can be resolved and industrial action is avoided, but if and when a strike becomes apparent or inevitable, we will start contingency planning."

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