Firefighters ‘incandescent’ after Westminster government refuses to improve pension plans
Firefighters today announced a significant escalation of strike action, with four days of strikes commencing on 31 October until 4 November.
This follows a refusal from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) refusal to bring any new offer to the table over pensions, despite two months of talks.
The strike will begin at 18:00 on 31 October until 18:00 on 4 November.
The union states that it has negotiated in good faith and has taken up every opportunity to make its case and to seek changes to the government’s pension plans, which the unions says are expensive and unworkable.
Despite promising statements from Penny Mordaunt, the Westminster fire minister, it is now clear the government does not want to resolve this dispute and is spoiling for a fight.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters are incandescent following two months of negotiations which have led to no new proposals.
“Firefighters will not stand by and see our members’ pension rights destroyed by a government which does not give a damn about the safety or wellbeing of firefighters or the long term.
“The public do not want 60 year olds tackling fires. Everyone understand the stupidity of these plans – except government Ministers.
“We remain committed to resolving this dispute in the interests of our members and the public at large.”
The FBU has opposed government attacks on firefighter pensions and the union has presented large quantities of professional evidence to demonstrate the proposals do not take account of the real operational demands or standards of a firefighter’s role.
Under government proposals firefighters will have to work until they are 60 instead of 55, pay more into their pensions and ultimately get less in retirement.
Due to the rigorous fitness requirements of the fire service, many of firefighters are expected to be unable to work to 60 and therefore risk losing half of their pension.
The public will also be put at risk with every likelihood that increasing numbers of 60 year old firefighters will be attending the most serious of incidents.
The Westminster government now stands isolated as the ONLY government in the United Kingdom which has offered no new proposals, with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all putting forward new proposals for firefighters to consider.
Mr Wrack added: “The fact the Westminster government now stands alone in this dispute shows they are ignoring all the evidence and spoiling for a fight. They do not care less about firefighters or the fire and rescue service.”