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New fire pay offer: Strike off.

Byline: JAMES TAIT

FIREFIGHTER bosses last night called off a planned 24-hour strike after being offered a fresh deal aimed at ending their bitter pay dispute.

And it was believed the new deal would be accepted by fire chiefs.

The Fire Brigade Union was planning to stage a 24-hour walkout from 6pm on Thursday, lead by union boss Andy Gilchrist, but that is now off.

The change comes after FBU executives voted to call off the strike and recommend acceptance of the deal.

The executive was not unanimous in the decision.

Local authority employers have not increased the 16% pay offer over three years but have "loosened" some of the strings attached to the deal.

The revised offer allows for more consultation on planned changes to duty systems.

A union spokesman said: "It is a chance to end the dispute, but the membership will decide."

A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said the news was "encouraging".

He added: "We welcome that the strike is off."

But not everyone was happy.

Union activists attacked the executive for calling off the strike before the conference had a chance to discuss the offer.

One activist said that calling off the walk-out was "an absolute disgrace".

He went on: "The executive has bottled it and there will be a blood bath at conference."

CAPTION(S):

LEADER: Gilchrist
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 19, 2003
Words:225
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