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Formula to solve last 999 fight falls adrift.

The formula brought in 25 years ago to settle the last firefighters' dispute has fallen behind average male earnings by almost pounds 90 a week, new figures showed yesterday. The 1977/8 pay row ended with an agreement to link firefighters' pay to the top quarter of male manual weekly earnings.

That figure was pounds 93 in 1978, compared with pounds 89 for the average weekly pay of all male workers.

The manual figure stayed ahead of the average earnings throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s and remained broadly similar until 1987.

But male average earnings then started to increase at a faster rate than manual pay because of cutbacks in manufacturing and other sectors linked to manual labour.

In 1988 the average weekly wage for the top quarter male manual workers was pounds 237, but for male average earnings it was pounds 245.

By this year the figures had risen to pounds 439 and pounds 527, a difference of more than pounds 90 a week.

Paul Kenny, a leading official of the GMB union, which complied the figures, said the research showed the strength of the firefighters' case.

'If people accepted that the original principle of the formula should be followed, this dispute could be settled.' Weekly pay for firefighters is pounds 324 for an 18-year-old during the first few months of employment, pounds 460 for a leading firefighter after 15 years' service, pounds 488 for a senior sub-officer, and pounds 566 for a senior station officer.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 24, 2002
Words:249
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