Worker Independence | 11.06.2004 01:53
Thursday June 10, 2004 4:03 AM
The executive of the Fire Brigades Union decided to recommend a ballot for industrial action to the union's annual conference next week.
Local authority employers were accused of refusing to honour an agreement reached last summer to end the long-running firefighters' dispute.
The hitch is the latest in a series of last-minute problems which is holding up payment of a 3.5% wage rise, backdated to last November.
FBU general secretary Andy Gilchrist said: "We are angry and exasperated at councillors always moving the goalposts during these pay talks. Every time agreement is reached, they put up another obstacle.
"The test for the payment of 3.5% was verification by the Audit Commission that the pay agreement had been honoured and change was taking place. This test has been passed, the agreement has been honoured by us and it is time to pay up."
Mr Gilchrist said employers had raised fresh obstacles which were nothing to do with the agreement reached last year.
"It is clear they have no genuine intention of reaching an agreement. They have done little more than lie, waste our time and insult people providing a first rate public service."
The FBU said employers were treating last year's agreement as a "book full of blank cheques" and said the patience of firefighters had now run out.
Firemen and women across the country staged unofficial action last month because of a problem with the pay deal and now look set to be balloted again for more disruption. The deal last year ended a series of strikes which saw military Green Goddess vehicles being used to replace fire engines.
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