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Firework displays jeopardised over strike

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By Glenn McMahon

FIREWORK displays across London could be jeopardised after firemen announced plans to strike over bonfire weekend.

FIREWORK displays across London could be jeopardised or forced to scale down after firemen announced plans to strike over bonfire weekend.

Brent Council’s safety officers ruled the annual event in Roundwood Park could go ahead without a bonfire.

A spokesman for Brent Council said it would consider hiring a private fire-company as cover depending on the cost.

London’s 5,600 firemen will also walk-out on Monday, November 1, as the dispute over working conditions continues.

Strike action was voted for after employers, the London Fire Brigade, sent out formal notices, in August, stating contracts would be terminated if negotiations were not completed within three months.

Firemen would then have to reapply for their jobs under new contracts.

The LFB says it has been trying to agree changes to shift patterns and ‘outdated’ allowances to make more time for community safety work and training.

The Fire Brigade Union says talks were progressing but were forced to take action over the shock move.

The Government announced a 25 per cent cut from fire and rescue service budgets last week over the next four years but said this figure could be reduced if flexible working arrangements, pay restraint and recruitment freezes were implemented.

On Saturday, London fire-crews picketing stations were replaced by 27 fire-engines and 162 contracted firemen.

However, London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, accused strikers of harassment, intimidation and violence towards the contractors.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said the accusations were unfounded.

A decision on whether to allow the termination of contracts or to extend negotiations will be taken by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, made up of 17 London Councillors and two mayoral appointees, at a meeting on November 18.

Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow and leader of the Labour group on the LFEPA, said: “The problem is a lack of political leadership. They have been spoiling for a fight; London doesn’t need it. We should be looking at how we can diffuse the situation and then see what the best way forward is.”

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26th October 2010