Search

Firefighters will strike for five hours from noon today

09:38 02 May 2014

Members of the Fire Brigades

Members of the Fire Brigades' Union protesting over pensions outside the gates to Downing Street last October (Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Firefighters will launch a series of fresh strikes over the Bank Holiday weekend, with its long-running dispute over pensions remaining deadlocked.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales will walk out for five hours from noon today, between 2pm tomorrow and 2am on Sunday, and between 10am and 3pm on Sunday, forcing fire authorities to make alternative arrangements for fire cover.

The union said the strikes could be halted immediately if the Government made a revised pensions offer that “takes the evidence into account”.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “It is purely the failure of the Government to present revised proposals that has led to these strikes. Now the Government is walking away from talks. It is utterly irresponsible.

“The FBU has never walked away from discussion and our members have been patient and measured in their approach, but we will not simply stand by while Government imposes a pension scheme that is totally unworkable, unaffordable, unsustainable and unfair.”

The union said firefighters are having to pay higher pension contributions, face working into their late 50s before retiring and could be sacked because their fitness declines as they get older.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “It was the union executive’s decision to call this strike that effectively ended its discussions with the Government.

“This shows the executive is not serious about finding a resolution for its members.

“The Government is clear that further change can be made through constructive engagement, 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.

“This weekend public safety is our prime concern and robust contingency plans are in place to keep people protected.”

Fire chiefs in London urged people to take extra care with barbecues over the weekend, as they finalised their contingency plans.

There will be 27 fire engines on standby in the capital for emergencies including house fires, road accidents and collapsed buildings.

A fire engine may not be sent to less urgent and non life-threatening incidents such as rubbish fires, animal rescues, flooding and people stuck in lifts.

A separate row broke out in Buckinghamshire, with the union accusing the fire authority of “locking out” firefighters for an entire shift even though some of the walkouts are for five hours.

FBU official Steve Allen said: “Local firefighters are extremely worried about the implications of this nonsensical and unnecessary decision.”

The union warned the action risked escalating the dispute across the country.

The fire service denied that anyone was being locked out, saying the local authority had decided not to accept firefighters only working part of their shift.

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Mark Beard, headteacher of University College School in Hampstead, where shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt was a pupil. Picture: Dieter Perry

Hampstead and Highgate’s private school leaders have united against Labour’s plans to revoke tax breaks for independent schools if they don’t support the state sector – after the head of the shadow education secretary’s old school accused the MP of “offensive bigotry”.

All men: The line-up of commendation winners in October, with borough commander BJ Harrington and Mayor of Camden Lazzaro Pietragnoli. Picture: Polly Hancock

Police in Camden have rejected accusations of sexism after figures revealed female officers are far less likely to be recognised for bravery or excellent police work.

50 minutes ago
Demonstrators join firefighters leaving Belsize Fire Station for the last time. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

It is nearly a year since Boris Johnson forced the closure of Belsize fire station in the face of widespread opposition from the community, firefighters, politicians of all stripes – and his own fire authority.

10:00
What the new Royal Free building next to Hampstead Green will look like should current plans be realised

Plans to build a £42million research centre for the Royal Free in the heart of Hampstead have been criticised by the area’s most influential heritage group, with the hospital site described as “grossly overdeveloped”.

Most read news

Just in case you were wondering, Westminster Cathedral isn’t a mosque.

Vloggers aren’t just being used to sell beauty products anymore, they’re being used to sell universities.

Ashley Roberts says she’s happy for Declan Donnelly after he asked his girlfriend to marry him.

The Foreign Office was unable to give any details on the conditions of those injured.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition