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Fire Union Says London Bonfire Night Strike Talks Break Down

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Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Talks between the U.K.’s Fire Brigades Union and London Fire Brigade seeking to prevent a strike on Nov. 5, Britain’s Bonfire Night, have broken down.

“The talks have gone to ground this afternoon, and there are no plans for any more talks at the moment,” Helen Hague, a spokeswoman for the union, said by telephone today.

The union has called its members to strike from 10 a.m., Nov. 5, to 9 a.m., Nov. 7, for a total of 47 hours. The firefighters already staged an eight-hour walk-out on Oct. 23 and plan to hold another eight-hour walkout on Nov. 1.

“The continuing determination by the FBU to take strike action is unnecessary, unjustified and will be viewed unsympathetically by Londoners,” Brian Coleman, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority chairman, said in an e-mailed statement. “Our message is simple -- call off the strikes now and meet us on the 5 November at the Resolution Advisory Panel which has the ability to resolve the dispute.”

The fire brigade wants to terminate firefighters’ existing contracts and offer them new ones. The FBU has said this process is aimed at cutting some of the 5,557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters.

Bonfire Night is an annual celebration in the U.K. held to mark the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of Nov. 5, 1605, where Guy Fawkes and other conspirators attempted to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London. It is marked with the use of fireworks and lighting of bonfires, making it one of the busiest nights for firefighters, who receive and attend twice as many calls as on an average day.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Lawrence in London at rlawrence7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.

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