Second London eight-hour firefighters strike begins

Firefighters are striking over planned changes to their working hours
More than 5,500 London firefighters have begun a second eight-hour strike in a dispute over new contracts.

The strike, which began at 1000 GMT and will end at 1800 GMT, comes after talks between London Fire Brigade (LFB) and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) failed.

The union said Sunday’s talks did not yield results as LFB was repeating the “same mantra” but the brigade said it did offer to compromise.

The brigade said 27 appliances and 170 contract workers would provide cover.

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The cover is being provided by private firm AssetCo, which signed a £9m seven-year deal with LFB last year.

The brigade said it would answer 999 calls but would only be able to attend urgent incidents.

Firefighters walked out for eight hours on 23 October.

‘No new offers’
The brigade wants firefighters to do 11-hour day shifts and 13-hour night shifts, instead of the current nine-hour days and 15-hour nights.

It has asked firefighters to sign a new contract to bring the shift changes into effect.

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We are bitterly disappointed ”

Spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson
The union said firefighters faced the sack if they did not agree to the new shift patterns.

Matthew Wrack, from the FBU, said: “They (LFB) are not negotiating unfortunately but all they do is repeat the same mantra every single time.

“There are options whereby we can compromise on the question of shifts, what we are not prepared to accept is the dictat that is being used in the current negotiations by London Fire Brigade management.”

London’s Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “The Fire Brigades Union has been very clear with us over the last six months or so that the real reason they oppose these changes is because they oppose any change really, but most particularly because they feel they will affect their lives in terms of how much time they get to spend at home with their families.

“I was very disappointed that after six hours of discussions yesterday they broke down without an agreement.

‘Willing to talk’
“We didn’t make any new offers yesterday but what we did do was to offer to take away some of the conditions we had added to [the proposed new shifts], which the Fire Brigades Union had objected to very strongly.”

He added that LFB was “willing to talk to them all day”.

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“Thorough and responsible contingency planning should ensure that Guy Fawkes week remains safe and enjoyable in this city but that does not detract from the FBU’s cynical and miserable refusal to subject their case to independent arbitration and call off this unnecessary strike.”

Fire Minister Bob Neill said: “I think its very disappointing that we are having strikes at all. I really would have hoped that this could have been resolved by negotiation.

“I am concerned about the decision by the union to choose Bonfire Night of all nights…

“I think that is reckless and is frankly needlessly putting the public at risk.”

The union and LFB are scheduled to meet on Tuesday for talks over a 47-hour strike planned to start on 5 November, Bonfire Night.

This year the Hindu, Jain and Sikh festival of lights Diwali falls on Friday.

The dispute centres on plans to shorten firefighters’ night shifts and increase day shifts
Firefighters currently work 15-hour night shifts and 9-hour day shifts
The London Fire Brigade is proposing 13-hour night shifts and 11-hour day shifts
The brigade says this will give more time for training and community safety work
The FBU is angry that firefighters must sign new contracts or face the sack
It is striking as the brigade has begun a formal process to terminate 5,600 firefighters’ contracts
A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “We are bitterly disappointed that a profession which prides itself on protecting and reassuring the public seem determined to torment Londoners over minor and extremely reasonable adjustments to their very flexible working arrangements.

Cheryl Cole wins fastest-selling No. 1 of 2010

Cheryl Cole has notched up her second UK number one and the fastest selling non-charity single of 2010 with new track ‘Promise This’.

The X Factor judge’s much-discussed performance on the show last Sunday saw her latest release sell over 157,000 copies this week, just pipping Barbadian singer Rihanna’s comeback track ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ to the top spot.

The lead song from the ‘Umbrella’ hitmaker’s upcoming album Loud achieved first week sales of 126,000, giving Rihanna her 14th UK top ten hit and the second fastest-selling single of the year so far.

Nelly’s ‘Just A Dream’ climbs from 11 to eight this week, where it becomes sandwiched between two big fallers, in the shape of Duck Sauce’s ‘Barbra Streisand’ at seven and The Wanted’s sophomore track ‘Heart Vacancy’ at nine.

Outside the top of the chart, Michael Bublé’s ‘Hollywood’ lands at 11 after being boosted 16 places by an X Factor appearance, while former top five smash ‘Miami 2 Ibiza’ by Tinchy Stryder and Swedish House Mafia slips just behind at 12.

Elsewhere, a triple bill of new releases – Tim Berg’s ‘Seek Bromance’, Peter Andre’s ‘Defender’ and Devlin’s ‘Runaway’ – make their mark further down the chart, arriving together at 13, 14 and 15 respectively.

The top ten in full:

1. (-) Cheryl Cole: ‘Promise This’
2. (-) Rihanna: ‘Only Girl (In The World)’
3. (1) Bruno Mars: ‘Just The Way You Are’
4. (4) Cee Lo Green: ‘Forget You’
5. (6) Michael Posner: ‘Cooler Than Me’
6. (5) Katy Perry: ‘Firework’
7. (3) Duck Sauce: ‘Barbra Streisand’
8. (11) Nelly: ‘Just A Dream’
9. (2) The Wanted: ‘Heart Vacancy’
10. (8 ) Tinie Tempah: ‘Written In The Stars’

Source: Official Charts Company

Court Shuts Down LimeWire

LimeWire, the popular decade-old peer-to-peer network, was shut down yesterday after losing its legal battle against the RIAA, Wired reports.

A federal judge found that 93 percent of the traffic on Limewire, which drew 50 million users a month, involved the transfer of unauthorized copyright material. Under the judge’s orders, LimeWire ceased all “searching, downloading, uploading [and] file trading.”

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The decision marks the first time legal action has been taken against a peer-to-peer software provider since the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that file-sharing companies could be sued for distributing copyright-infringing materials. RIAA filed their lawsuit against LimeWire in 2006.

“As of today, we are required to stop distribution and support of LimeWire’s P2P file-sharing service as a result of a court-ordered injunction,” LimeWire CEO George Searle wrote yesterday on the company’s website. “Naturally, we’re disappointed with this turn of events. We are extremely proud of our pioneering history and have, for years, worked hard to bridge the gap between technology and content rights holders. However, at this time, we have no option but to cease further distribution and support of our software. It’s a sad occasion for our team, and for you — the hundreds of millions of people who have used LimeWire to discover new things.”


Nokia Phones Get Official WordPress App

Aofficial app for users of the popular WordPress blogging software is now live on the Nokia’s fast-growing Ovi Store for mobile apps. It lets you blog on the go, and it rivals the other platforms in features so Nokia-using bloggers have plenty to be happy about.

WordPress already released official apps for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry so people can update their WordPress blogs from their mobile phones. The apps work for blogs hosted on WordPress servers and for blogs hosted elsewhere that just use the WordPress platform and content management system (CMS).

Since WordPress is an open source project, you can also grab the source code for the app — just in case you’re extra savvy and want to make some modifications. The app supports WordPress 2.7 and up as it is but talented coders should be able to build in support for proprietary versions of WordPress and extra features to boot.

Like its counterparts on other platforms, the Nokia app is free. It’s not yet compatible with Symbian3 devices like the N8, C6, C7, but it works just fine on the N97 Mini and the X6. Head over to the Ovi Store to download it if you’re a Nokia user.

Who’s willing to bet that Windows Phone 7 is next?


Twitter Now Has 300 Employees

The size of Twitter’s staff has more than doubled since February, with the company announcing this afternoon that it has hired its 300th full-time employee.

That still makes the company a fraction of the size of some other quickly growing web companies — Facebook has more than 1,700 employees and Groupon is pushing 1,000 — but it does represent a fairly significant hiring spree in the seven months since Biz Stone announced employee number 140.

Twitter’s still hiring for dozens of positions across engineering, operations and sales. We imagine the latter will become more important over the next few months as the company continues to scale its advertising business.