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Fresh talks in firefighters dispute

Union leaders are to meet a Government minister for fresh talks today in a bid to break the deadlock over the long-running firefighters’ pensions dispute.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales have been on strike on more than 40 separate occasions since the row flared over a year ago.

General secretary Matt Wrack will meet fire minister Penny Mordaunt to discuss issues at the heart of the conflict.

In a letter to the minister, Mr Wrack said: “As we have set out consistently, the FBU is always willing to meet to discuss a way forward. We have never walked away from talks or refused to meet.

“Nevertheless, talks must be conducted with a view to resolving the matters between us.

“Therefore, we hope that you will be attending the meeting with revised proposals in relation to the concerns we have raised.”

The FBU claims firefighters will have to work longer and receive lower pensions when they retire under controversial Government changes. The latest strikes ended last Saturday, with further action not ruled out.

Ms Mordaunt said: “I am pleased that we are resuming talks and I hope that the Fire Brigades Union will use this opportunity of renewed discussion to move forward with our improved arrangements which address the issues of early retirement and fitness.

“Any further industrial action can only be counter-productive and serve to hurt firefighters and the public they serve.”

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