Fire Brigade Strike to Go Ahead

Image: Rex Features

Firefighters are to strike on 1st and 4th November following failed negotiations over a dispute about pensions and retirement age.

Fire Brigade Union members in England and Wales will strike between 18:30 and 23:00 on 1st November, and 06:00 and 08:00 on 4th November.

They are protesting against the raising of the pension age from 55 to 60, concerned that it is not possible for many members to be able to fight fires until that age.

The FBU had previously postponed a strike planned for last Saturday following last-minute negotiations between the FBU and employers.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said:  “The FBU has been very reasonable, but we are now faced with broken promises and those in power evading their responsibilities.

“The Westminster government has created this mess, but it is refusing to clear it up.

“It now recognises the problem, but it won’t provide the legal and financial guarantees firefighters need to ensure they have a job and an unreduced pension in the future.

“Firefighters face the sack towards the end of their career and the loss of their pension. That can’t be right.”

Yusuf Timms, FBU secretary for south-west London, said he feels “very pleased” about the announcement of industrial action, but also expressed concerns about how effective it will be.

He said that a strike needs to be “significantly longer” than the planned duration in order to get the government’s attention.

He said: “I don’t believe a total of 6 ½ hours will achieve a great deal.”

He suggested that a strike of at least 24 hours was supported by the London branch of the FBU, as well as those of Manchester and Liverpool, who denounced the calling off of the strike last week.

Referring to plans to shut 10 fire stations and cut the jobs of 550 firefighters in London, Mr Timms said: “The government’s attack on our pensions is part of a much wider attack on the public sector.

“I don’t believe that the government values anybody in it.”

This sentiment was echoed by Paul Neale, an FBU representative at Richmond Fire Station, who said last week that he felt the pension reforms were evidence of a wider plan to privatise public services.

He added that morale at Richmond Fire Station was “appalling” even before the proposed rise in the retirement age from 55 to 60, and is “even worse now”.

Image courtesy of Rex Features

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