LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - British firefighters were due to
decide on Thursday whether to accept a 16 percent pay increase
which would bring their long-running dispute with the government
and employers to an end.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) were meeting in
Glasgow to vote on the deal, to be introduced over 30 months and
tied closely to modernisation of the service.
The FBU leadership says it is confident members will accept
the offer but several brigades across the country have already
vowed to fight on.
Britain's 55,000 firefighters first walked out last November
after the government rejected their initial demand for a 40
percent pay rise.
Subsequent strikes forced the army on to the streets to
provide cover in antiquated "Green Goddess" fire engines,
stretching their resources at a time when they were gearing up
for the war in Iraq.
In April, firefighters overwhelmingly turned down a previous
16 percent offer because of the link to changes in working
practices. They said the proposed reforms would lead to job cuts
and the closure of fire stations.
The government, under growing pressure to settle the
dispute, rushed a bill through parliament last month giving it
powers to enforce a settlement.

Reut04:32 06-12-03