Our firefighters are set to strike next Wednesday in a row over pensions after talks between their union and the Government failed.
Firefighter Pat Carberry, chair of Bedfordshire’s section of the Fire Brigade’s Union, said 330 full-time and 140 retained workers will be striking for four hours after an overwhelming vote for action.
He said: “It would appear that the talks have failed and a strike date has been set for Wednesday with a walkout at midday lasting till 4pm.
“The initial action is only four hours and is a warning shot to the government.”
Union members are taking action after hearing the government’s plans to change the rules covering their retirement. At present firefighters retire at 55 or after 30 years’ service but new rules will push the date back to the age of 60 or 40 years service.
In an intensively physical job, which takes its toll on the fittest of workers, the union says the move is unworkable and unfair.
There’s no opportunity for older workers to move to support roles and, if they fail rigorous physicals, they can be dismissed with a much reduced pension.
Pat added: “Since the outset we have mounted a campaign that has been running for over two years now based upon commissioning independent experts to compile academic reports supporting why firefighters simply aren’t normally sufficiently fit to continue with the arduous role of firefighting and of course we have used this time to engage in talks with the politicians who are imposing these unworkable conditions.”
Members have left the longest legal time frame before striking, following the ballot. Beds fire chief Paul Fuller said that trained firefighters will still be available to attend 999 calls where a person’s life is at risk.