FIRE-FIGHTERS are to strike for 24 hours as part of an ongoing battle over “unworkable” pension reforms.
Starting at 9am this Thursday (June 12), the strike will be the longest in the Fire Brigade Union’s (FBU) three-year campaign against government plans to increase fire-fighters’ pension contributions.
The announcement by the FBU follows a third annual increase in pension contributions, with fire-fighters typically now paying more than £4,000 a year from a £29,000 salary.
The government also has plans for another increase in 2015.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, has accused Fire Minister Brandon Lewis of ‘burying his head in the sand’ by refusing to acknowledge fire-fighters’ fears.
“He must accept that fire-fighters 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 its 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.”
As well as fears over another hike in pension payments, FBU members have also voiced concern that the government’s proposals will also impact older fire-fighters..
A cut in ‘back-room jobs’ for those who no longer meet the required fitness levels to stay on active duty will mean many are forced to retire before they are 60 - and stand to lose almost half of their pension in the process.
FBU members around Pembrokeshire will be among those joining the latest action – and another strike, planned between 10am and 5pm on Saturday, June 21, will be the 14th protest by FBU members since September 2013.
In addition, between the two strikes fire-fighters will also not carry out any voluntary overtime — which is routinely needed by many fire and rescue services to maintain fire cover — or conduct training of strike breakers between the beginning of the first strike and 9am on Sunday, June 22.
A spokesman for the department for communities and local government said: "By disrupting constructive discussions and an open consultation with further strike action the FBU has once again shown the country it is not serious about finding a resolution.”