(File Photo – London Free Press)

London’s long-running labour fire could be snuffed out by Friday evening.

City firefighters, pitched for years with city hall in the longest contract fight in Canadian firefighting history, will complete on Friday the mandatory three days of ratification voting on the tentative deal reached between the two sides.

The matter will then go to city council, who are set to meet Friday evening to discuss a matter “concerning labour relations and employee negotiations.” That’s the fire deal, the details of which council was briefed on earlier this week by Chief John Kobarda.

Few details are known publicly. But the London Professional Fire Fighters Association (LPFFA) boss struck an optimistic tone Thursday as the 385 members’ ratification vote continued.

“I’m very positive about it right now,” Jason Timlick said. “(But) I have to let the process play itself out right now.”

The LPFFA has been working under an expired contract since 2010 and has been in arbitration. Relations grew tense over the years, particularly with Art Zuidema, the recently departed city manager who’s been replaced by Martin Hayward.

Just two weeks after Hayward took over permanently as top bureaucrat, there was a breakthrough in talks.

City hall was seeking some taxpayer-friendly concessions, among them an end to the fire-police pay parity in London. A key question if the labour deal is approved is whether that was retained by the LPFFA.

London has about 350 suppression, or front-line, firefighters. Their pay has become a sore spot for taxpayers because many of them appear annually on the so-called sunshine list of municipal employees making $100,000 or more.

A first-class firefighter, after four years on the job, makes $85,503, based on 2010 wages. The LPFFA was hoping for an arbitration award that would raise that retroactively to $92,207 until 2014. There would then be the subsequent contract, and any raises within it, to consider.

Their sunshine list appearances are in part due to the fact city hall understaffs the fire department, so many firefighters rack up piles of overtime. The strategy ultimately saves the city money.

pmaloney@postmedia.com

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Source: City deal with firefighters could happen Friday | The London Free Press