Huntingdon firefighter calls for pensions dispute resolution

Firefighters on strike in Huntingdon

Firefighters on strike in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

Firefighters say they hope the Government will return to the negotiating table to reach a resolution on pensions as a result of yesterday’s industrial action.

Crews across the country downed tools from noon to 4pm in a walkout over the dispute.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announced the strike as part of its campaign against changes it says will make firefighters work longer and pay more in to pensions.

Paul Whitaker, FBU branch secretary for Huntingdon, who has been a firefighter based at the town’s fire station for five years, said: “Fire Minister Brandon Lewis is the sticking point at the moment. Scottish firefighters weren’t out, they are still negotiating a settlement.

“We did not want to take this action but we need the Government to listen and hear what we are saying.

“They (the Government) conducted a study with a doctor they picked and he said firefighters will not be able to do a firefighting job between 55 and 60.

“It will end up with firefighters being dismissed under capability and losing thousands off their pension.

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“We all understand you need to be fit to do this job but as you get older your body degrades.”

Mr Whitaker admitted that going on strike had “not been a nice feeling” and thanked people for their support. “We had a lot of honks from people driving by,” he said.

There was just one call-out in Huntingdonshire during the strike - an accident in Brampton Road, Huntingdon at 2.55pm. Two fire engines were sent but no action was necessary.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer Chris Strickland said there had been a reduction in the number of emergency calls compared to usual levels.