Firefighters warn strike dispute not over ‘by a long’shot’

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Strike action at the weekend by fire services was called off at the 11th hour, but a local union leader has warned the issue is not over ‘by a long shot’.

Firefighters across the country, including Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, had planned to step down between 6.30pm and 11.30pm on Saturday over an ongoing pensions dispute.

The industrial action was called but the Government has been warned it will not spell the end of further walk-outs.

Chairman for Nottinghamshire FBU, Sean McCallum said: “It was intimated there may be some room for negotiation in one part of the dispute, and the decision was taken to call the strike off in light of that.

“The dispute is not over by a long shot and the Government is quite aware that if they do not get down to some serious talks then further strike action is possible.

“We are talking about safety, and that fact that 80 per cent of our members voted for action shows how deeply they have been hurt by the proposed changes.

“There are no gold-plated pensions for firefighters, what we pay is what we get.

“The negotiations are ongoing.”

Prior to Saturday, firefighters staged a four-hour walkout on 25th September which Mr McCallum says was a ‘shot across the bow’ of the Government to show how 
serious they are taking the 
issue.

As well as changes to pension, there are proposals to make firefighters work until they are 60, an age which FBU members are arguing it simply not physically possible.

“To be told we have to work for longer and pay more in, it’s a situation that is just not acceptable.

“You can’t expect firefighters to work until they are 60, it’s an arduous and exhausting job, and will just not be possible.”

Meanwhile, fire reservists, who provided basic cover during the September strike and had been on stand-by until Saturday’s action was scrapped, have been thanked for their efforts.

Chief fire officer and chief executive Sean Frayne, said: “I would like to thank all of our reservist fire crews and non-striking employees who have given us their own time to ensure the service was able to satisfy its statutory duty and provide an emergency response service

“Their commitment and willingness to work ensured the safety of our Derbyshire communities was and 
has been maintained at all times.”