Firefighters set for further strikes

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Firefighters have today issued a further eight day period of strike action over a row with the government about pension proposals.

The strikes will take place for eight days from 9th-16th August between 12–2pm and 10.59–11.59pm.

Among the proposed changes to the current pension arrangements is a plan to change firefighters’ retirement age from 55 to 60.

But members of the Fire Brigades Union are concerned that firefighters may face dismissal as they would be unable to maintain the high physical fitness requirements necessary for their role until they are age 60.

The proposals would also mean that if firefighters opt for early retirement, the reduction in their pension would be unacceptably high.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “It is absolutely ludicrous that a government can impose a scheme which means that firefighters will have to ride engines and rescue people from fires up to age 60.

“This is unsafe and unrealistic for both firefighters and the public.

“We know it and the public know it, but the government will not listen to the evidence based case we have made to them”.

A spokesman for the Fire Brigades Union said an improved position meaning that firefighters could retire with more flexibility aged 55 had been considered and costed by the government for more than three months but had not been offered.

He said: “The costings provided by the government’s actuary department and released by the DCLG mean firefighters who took early retirement would get a reduced pension of around 10-13 per cent rather than the massive reduction that the government currently proposes.

“Proposals incorporating flexible retirement options should be included in an improved offer for the FBU for its members to consider.”

Sean Starbuck, FBU national officer, said: “It is extremely disappointing that we have had to issue more strike dates but the government are simply not listening to our concerns.

“We have a new fire minister but to date she doesn’t appear to have listened to our case.

“The government still has an opportunity to improve their offer which could avoid the need for action.”

No industrial action is being taken in Scotland and Northern Ireland as improved pension proposals are already being discussed.

Mr Starbuck added: “Firefighters are angry as the Westminster government claims we do not want to resolve this dispute.

“This is absurd as the situation both in Scotland and Northern Ireland shows this is simply not the case.”