Firefighters set to strike on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve

Falmouth Packet: Firefighters set to strike on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve Firefighters set to strike on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve

Firefighters are to strike on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and launch a ban on overtime in an escalation of their long-running dispute with the Government over pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales will walk out for five hours from 7pm on December 24, for six hours from 6.30pm on December 31 and for two hours from 6.30am on January 3.

Between 7pm on December 27 and 7pm on the December 29, all firefighters in the union across England, Wales and Scotland will refuse to work voluntary overtime.

It will be the first time firefighters in the three nations will be taking industrial action in the bitter row over retirement age and pensions.

The union will have staged nine separate strikes since September.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters provide a first-class standard of service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and these strikes will remind Government just how reliant they are on our members' professionalism, commitment and flexibility.

"However, there should be no need for industrial action, and it's absurd that firefighters' concerns over pensions have not been addressed already.

"The Government must stop claiming they are negotiating when they have refused to talk for two months and insist on forcing through proposals that are unaffordable, unworkable and unfair.

"By simply conceding common sense and allowing firefighters a fair deal, the Government could end this industrial action today."

The union has been arguing that firefighters in their late 50s face the prospect of being sacked or seeing their pension reduced by almost half because of changes in the retirement age.

The FBU said firefighters' pension schemes are among the most expensive for workers anywhere in the public or private sector, but among the cheapest proportionally for the Government.

Most firefighters, who take home approximately £1,650 a month, already pay £320 or more a month into their pensions, and from next April this would rise for the third year in a row to more than £340 a month (£4,000 a year), with many facing a fourth consecutive rise of 2.2 per cent in 2015, said the FBU.

The union claims that the Government's proposals are "designed to fail" because they ignore the physical demands and fitness standards required by the occupation.

"Evidence suggests that at least two-thirds of the current workforce will face dismissal or their pension reduced by almost half because they are unable to maintain the fitness standards required by the fire service beyond the age of 55," said the FBU.

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: "The decision by FBU leaders to interrupt the Christmas holiday season with unnecessary industrial action is completely cynical.

"I met with the FBU on December 4 to continue discussions but their actions today show that they are not serious about resolving this dispute, which simply further damages firefighters' standing with the public.

"The deal on the table gives firefighters one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector. A firefighter who earns £29,000, and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension. An equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require fire-fighters to contribute twice as much.

"I would like to reassure the public that there are robust contingency arrangements in place."

Comments (1)

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12:32pm Tue 17 Dec 13

juwhite says...

Oh for gods sake get real - when will they realise the public are fed up with the whinging!! Yes they get paid good wages and they pay a lot in but they get a lot back and get more time off between shifts than any other service such as police and nurses. I know people who worked in more manual trades who worked doing harder manual work and have had to work on into their 60s and older. If you don't like it find another job! Times are tough for all of us and we are always been told a lot of their work now is fire prevention which to be seems to speak volumes there is the answer for the older firefighters!! If you worked out their wages based on time/hours actually worked then they are on very good money - they get to sleep at night if on watch - I don't nurses or policemen getting this treatment. Yeah strike at the busiest times of year to try to force the government to cave in. You have lost the public's support and respect.
Oh for gods sake get real - when will they realise the public are fed up with the whinging!! Yes they get paid good wages and they pay a lot in but they get a lot back and get more time off between shifts than any other service such as police and nurses. I know people who worked in more manual trades who worked doing harder manual work and have had to work on into their 60s and older. If you don't like it find another job! Times are tough for all of us and we are always been told a lot of their work now is fire prevention which to be seems to speak volumes there is the answer for the older firefighters!! If you worked out their wages based on time/hours actually worked then they are on very good money - they get to sleep at night if on watch - I don't nurses or policemen getting this treatment. Yeah strike at the busiest times of year to try to force the government to cave in. You have lost the public's support and respect. juwhite

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