CAMBS: More firefighter strikes as pension row continues


- Credit: Archant

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out for four days in their latest round of industrial action

The strike, which the Government has described as completely unnecessary, will start at 6pm on October 31 and end on the evening before Bonfire Night.

Firefighters have been in conflict with the government about changes to their retirement age, claiming the idea of making members work until they are in their 60s could put people’s lives in danger.

The FBU said it had been trying to negotiate with the government but accused ministers of refusing to bring any new offer to the table – despite two months of talks.

It added that the Westminster government was now “isolated”, as new proposals were being put forward in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters are incandescent following two months of negotiations which have led to no new proposals.

“Firefighters will not stand by and see our members’ pension rights destroyed by a Government which does not give a damn about the safety or wellbeing of firefighters or the long term.

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“The public do not want 60-year-olds tackling fires. Everyone understand the stupidity of these plans - except government ministers.”

However, Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “This strike action is completely unnecessary and we are disappointed by the FBU’s decision, which does nothing but damage the good reputation of the fire and rescue service.

“The Government has worked hard to give firefighters one of the most generous pensions in the public sector in recognition of the risks they take. Yet the Fire Brigades Union keeps letting its members and the public down by calling strikes at a time when they will cause maximum disruption.

“Under the new scheme, nearly three-quarters of firefighters will see no change in their pension age in 2015.

“A firefighter who earns £29,000 will still be able to retire after a full career aged 60 and get a £19,000-a-year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension.”

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy chief fire officer Chris Strickland said: “It is disappointing that the dispute between the FBU and the Government has not concluded resulting in these dates being announced.

“We will be working hard during the coming days to ensure our resilience arrangements are in place to provide emergency cover across the county. However, due to the length of the strike, it will be difficult for us to provide our normal level of service.”