Fourth Fire Strike In Less Than Three Months

Kingston Fire Station on WednesdayFirefighters in England and Wales went on strike for a fourth time on Wednesday as part of an ongoing dispute over the raising of their pension age from 55 to 60.

The strike took place from 10am to 2pm.

The Fire Brigades Union chose to take further industrial action after Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Local Government, Fire & Rescue, withdrew a government concession to the pensions agreement on 1st November following a breakdown in discussions.

In a letter to union members, the FBU’s General Secretary Matt Wrack said: “Unfortunately, to-date we have not been presented with any proposal that addresses the various concerns we have raised. 

“The Minister attempts to shift the responsibility of resolving one of our key issues (No Job No Pension) onto the Fire Service National Employers. 

We have made it crystal clear on several occasions that our dispute is with the Government and the problems associated with this particular issue have arisen because they have imposed an unworkable Normal Pension Age despite overwhelming evidence showing it will create huge difficulties.”

However Mr  Lewis said in an open letter that his plans “will ensure that no conscientious firefighter will leave the service without access to a job or a pension after the age of 55”.

He also said: “Dr Williams in his independent report found that 100 per cent of firefighters, following an appropriate exercise regime, should be able to maintain fitness to the age of 60.”

Dave Young, FBU’s representative at Kingston Fire Station, said that there will not be a sufficient number of backroom jobs for those who do not meet the fitness requirements after the age of 55, and that continuing to work as a firefighter after that age would be nearly impossible, so many would be forced to take a reduced pension.

“Our members are in it for the long run – months, years, it doesn’t matter to us.

We’re willing to strike for as long as it takes, although hopefully it does get resolved sooner rather than later.

We just want the pension that we signed up for.

Removing our labour is one of the only things we can do to make [the government] see sense.

We don’t like doing it, but there’s not much else we can do.”

However he added that public support had been positive on the whole, and is always so, but expressed concern over the lack of coverage of this support in the national press.

The first strike over this issue took place on 25th September. 

The previous strike, on 4th November, was notable for a row about the recall of firefighters to a scrap yard fire in Dagenham.  

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