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Updated: Firefighters to strike again in pensions row

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack.Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack.Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Firefighters in England and Wales will strike over pension reforms after the Government confirmed it would implement a new scheme without further negotiations

A 24-hour strike will take place from 9am on Thursday, June 12, with another set for 10am to 5pm on June 21. No voluntary overtime will be carried out between the strikes.

In addition between the two strikes firefighters will not carry out any voluntary overtime or conduct training of strikebreakers between the beginning of the first strike and 9am on Sunday, June 22.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “The minister has decided to bury his head in the sand, but he must accept that firefighters simply will not give up fighting for their futures — and our fire and rescue service.

“Concerns over these unworkable proposals remain as valid and grave as ever, and the government has ignored all the evidence including it’s own reports.

“It is as ever a difficult decision for us to take, but the only way for us to resolve this unnecessary and costly dispute is for the government to start listening to reason.”

During the strike, around half of West Yorkshire Fire Brigade’s fleet of 54 fire engines will be available and cover will be provided by those not striking as well as 49 Community Response Operatives (CROs).

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said: “We are very disappointed that a resolution to this ongoing dispute between the FBU and Government has not been found.

“Although we have tried and tested contingency plans, there is no escaping the fact that we will have less skilled resource available during this prolonged period.

“The level of cover and the standard of expertise at our disposal during strike will be significantly reduced, therefore I urge the public to take note of this and do their bit to help us by staying vigilant.”

The decision to strike was made at a meeting of the FBU’s executive council on Wednesday June 4.

On Tuesday FBU officials had met the fire minister, Brandon Lewis, in the hope that discussion could continue, but say their attempts fell on deaf ears.

The FBU said that before 2010, firefighters already contributed one of the highest proportions of their salary towards their pensions (11%), and in April this increased for the third year running. Firefighters typically now pay over £4,000 a year from a £29,000 salary, and the Government has announced they will impose another increase in 2015.

The FBU said increasing numbers of members are considering leaving the pension scheme as a result of its decreasing affordability — posing difficult questions over its sustainability.

Under the Government’s proposals, firefighters who are forced to retire before the age of 60 as a result of ageing will have half of their pension taken away.

The two strikes will be the thirteenth and fourteenth over pensions. The first was on Thursday, September 24, 2013.

 

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