Firefighters to strike for 24 hours

Huw Oxburgh
Authored by Huw Oxburgh
Posted Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 4:01pm

Firefighters in England and Wales will strike for a complete 24 hours after pensions talks between government and unions collapse.

A 24-hour strike — the longest yet in the three-year campaign — will take place from 9am on Thursday 12 June, with second shorter strike set for Saturday 21 June between 10am-5pm.
Whilst the issue is a matter between the Fire Brigades Union and Government, every Fire & Rescue Service has a legal duty to maintain a level of service to local communities as best it can.
In response to the strike Area Manager Phil Martin, Head of Community Safety for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “The Service has contingency plans in place and ours will again be put into place ahead of these dates for industrial action. Our plans worked well during the previous period of action, but we are asking the public to help us again by taking extra care. We will continue to respond to 999 calls and do everything we can to keep the public safe.”
“You can help us again by taking extra care and time to think about fire safety in your home during this period -  checking smoke alarms, ensuring you know what you would do if there was a fire and not making unnecessary calls to the fire and rescue service.”

The strike was called by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) after the government confirmed in May that it would implement a new unpopular  pensions scheme without further negotiations with the union.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “The minister has decided to bury his head in the sand, but he must accept that firefighters 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 it’s 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.”

The decision to strike was made at a meeting of the FBU’s executive council on Wednesday 4 June following from a meeting on Tuesday between FBU officials and the fire minister, Brandon Lewis.

The FBU claim that the Department for Communities and Local Government is still refusing to publish alternative, fully-costed proposals alleged to be in circulation since the 19 March.

The FBU argues that by not publishing the report; firefighters, the public and other parties — including ministers in the Welsh and Scottish governments — are unable to fairly respond to the consultation.

the core of the dispute between the government and the FBU are based on based on increases to the firefighters pension contributions currently Firefighters typically pay over £4,000 a year from a £29,000 salary which would increase under

Moreover under the government’s proposals, firefighters who are forced to retire before the age of 60 would  only  receive a portion of their pensions

A spokesman for the department for communities and local government told the guardian newspaper: "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.

"The government has made clear that a way forward can be reached, but not under the shadow of industrial action, which only serves to damage firefighters' standing with the public.

"The deal on the table gives firefighters one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector, and the proposals protect the earned rights of a higher proportion of members than any other public sector scheme.

"Nearly three quarters will see no change in their pension age in 2015. Under the new scheme, a firefighter who earns £29,000 will still be able to retire after a full career aged 60, 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 firefighters to contribute twice as much.

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