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THE THIN RED LINE




22nd AUGUST 2002

STORY: EMMA EVANS
emma.evans@gwent-wales.co.uk


PHOTO: RICHARD VELARDO-1908


Firefighters defiant


STRIKE THREAT: FIREMEN BID FOR A PAY PARITY WITH POLICE.

Firefighters from the Amman, Towy and Swansea valleys are threatening to strike if their pay demands are not met.

They joined colleagues from across Wales this weekend to try and resolve the pay deficit between the fire service and other emergency services.

It is the first time firefighters have threatened to strike since 1977.

At a rally in Swansea on Saturday, sub officer Jammie Rees of Ammanford fire station told the Guardian: “We are fighting for a pay rise that will bring our salary to £30,000 a year.

“We currently earn £22,000. But compared to members of the police force, who are on the same pay scale, there is a large deficit.”

Mr Rees said: “Since September 11, people should realise how important the role of a firefighter is.

“Not all calls are life threatening but there is an element of risk in every emergency call.

“To ensure that their families can live comfortably, many firefighters receive benefits to boost their pay packet. It is clear that the wage is not high enough.”

Following a meeting with the firefighters last week, Neath MP Peter Hain spoke of the need to avoid strike action.

He said: “We don't want to see a strike and they don't want to see it. “Everybody knows what the consequences might be if there were one.”

The national council responsible for pay levels in the fire service will meet on September 2 to discuss the problem.

The fire union will hold a conference 10 days later to discuss what action to take. Any industrial action is likely to take place some time in October.

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