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Firefighters on strike until 9am

Firefighters have been on the picket lines across the North East. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Firefighters across the region will remain out on strike for another two and a half hours this morning.

They walked out 9am yesterday and will return to work today at 9am.

This is the 48th round of industrial action in a continuing dispute with the government over pension reforms.

Firefighters walk out for 48th time in pensions row

Firefighters in the North East are on strike again today in the latest round of industrial action in a long-running row with the government over pensions.

It's the 48th time members of the Fire Brigades Union will walk out since the dispute flared last year.

The 24-hour strike starts at 9am.

The union said that after three years of discussions, firefighters still faced a "stark" choice of being sacked or having their pension severely reduced.

Firefighters in Sunderland during a previous strike. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"Firefighters in England are reluctantly calling further strike action as a direct result of the Westminster government's failure to listen and negotiate over pensions.

"Firefighters are asking the Westminster government to immediately open genuine negotiations to resolve this dispute. They should also hold a House of Commons debate to fully scrutinise the legislation and there should be a parliamentary vote on the regulations.

"We are not going to give up or go away. Firefighters will fight for however long it takes to secure a fair pensions deal. This dispute will not end as long as the regulations remain unchanged."

– Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary

"This strike action is completely unnecessary and we are disappointed by the FBU's decision, which does nothing but damage the good reputation of the fire and rescue service.

"The Government has worked hard to give firefighters one of the most generous pensions in the public sector.

"The scheme that is currently before Parliament provides greater ill-health and death benefits than the Fire Brigades Union's preferred approach and I believe that the approach we are using will be fairer on all, supporting those wishing to work longer - something absolutely essential if the firefighters' pension scheme is to remain sustainable."

– Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt

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Airline axes flights over strike action

German airline Lufthansa has cancelled dozens of flights to and from the UK and Ireland, including to and from Newcastle, due to strike action.

Around 100 flights have been cancelled at airports in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dublin.

The German airports affected by the strike are Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Hamburg.

The one-day strike, which is due to a pay dispute, will result in only about 20 of more than 1,650 scheduled short-haul flights operating.

The airline said many long-haul services will also be hit , with only six of 50 planned flights operating at its main Frankfurt hub, and only three of 17 in Munich.

Passengers affected by the cancellations can re-book for free, Lufthansa said.

Metro strike starts today

Workers who clean the Tyne and Wear Metro are to start their week-long strike today.

Members of the RMT union working on the Metro announced their plans to take industrial action on Wednesday and will walk out for seven days from this evening in a dispute which has already led to stoppages.

Meanwhile, RMT members employed by Arriva Trains Wales' cleaning contractors have received ballot papers for industrial action over a claim for a pay increase and improved terms and conditions.

Metro cleaners to go on strike

Workers who clean the Metro are to start a week-long strike, while cleaners at another rail firm are to be balloted for industrial action in separate rows over pay.

Members of the RMT union working on the Metro will walk out for seven days from Friday in a dispute which has already led to stoppages.

Meanwhile, RMT members employed by Arriva Trains Wales' cleaning contractors will receive ballot papers for industrial action over a claim for a pay increase and improved terms and conditions.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the union was stepping up its campaign for improved pay and conditions for cleaners on the railways.

"This dispute is a mirror-image of all that is wrong in this country, with greedy company bosses on one side and low paid cleaners providing essential public services on the other."

– Bob Crow, general secretary of RMT

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Strikes not affecting emergency services

Health officials say that emergency medical services are still available to patients across the region despite industrial action by doctors.

Numerous Health trusts have reported that between a quarter and two thirds of routine appointments have been cancelled at GP's practices.

Hospital consultants are also taking action against proposed changes to their pensions.

Dr George Rae, a representative of the British Medical Association, says the government has betrayed practitioners with the new pension plans.

Metro strikes off

Unions have agreed not to strike on June 21.

Industrial action made it difficult for Coldplay fans to travel to the Stadium of Light last week.

Bruce Springsteen fans will not have the same problem next Thursday when he plays the stadium.

"Talks on the pay dispute have now concluded and we can confirm that all three unions have agreed to suspend industrial action on Thursday 21 June.

“Employees will receive a 2.1% or £520 pay increase, whichever is the greater, stretching to 3% depending on current pay. They will also receive a £300 payment"

– Sharon Kelly, Customer Service Director at DBTW
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