Firefighters set to strike for four hours next week
Last updated at 17:11, Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Firefighters are to strike for four hours next week in a row over pensions, the Fire Brigades Union said.
Almost 80 per cent of those who voted were in favour of industrial action in a national ballot that ended earlier this month.
Union officials had left the strike to the last possible moment to allow for the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
The strike will take place between 12noon and 4pm on Wednesday (September 25).
Cumbria’s deputy chief fire officer Ian Cartwright said contingency plans were in place but urged people to take extra fire safety steps to protect themselves.
Emergency 999 calls will be answered but the brigade's response to incidents where life is considered to be in danger will be prioritised. It will try to attend all emergency calls but some incidents where life is not considered to be at immediate risk, such as small fires and automatic fire alarms, may receive a reduced or no response.
“Fires can start for a variety of reasons, from cooking being left unattended, to electrical faults or candles being placed too close to furnishings. The best advice we can give is for everyone to ensure they have a smoke alarm in their home and to check the battery is working at least once a week," said Mr Cartwright.
“Our highest priority during industrial action will be to respond to those crucial calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued. If we respond to low priority calls then those most in need could be at risk. A low priority call could be to someone who is locked outside their house or where debris has fallen in the road," he added.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said: "This initial strike is a warning shot to Government. Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions.
"Governments in Westminster and Cardiff have simply refused to see sense on these issues.
"It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late 50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.
"None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety."
Firefighters in Scotland will not strike next week while union officials are discussing the Scottish Government's most recent proposals.
But as a settlement in Scotland has not yet been found, the union's strike ballot could still result in industrial action there too.
The union said Government figures showed that thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting older.
A recent Government review found that more than half of current firefighters between the ages of 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards for fighting fires, while two thirds of those beyond the age of 55 fail to meet the standards.
Although the Government has previously claimed that older firefighters could be moved to less physically demanding roles, the FBU said its research found only a handful of "redeployment" opportunities in fire and rescue services, meaning mass sackings would be inevitable.
Firefighters already pay some of the highest pension contributions in the UK public or private sector and have seen increases for two consecutive years, the union said.
The majority of firefighters already pay almost 13 per cent of their salary in contributions with further increases due next year. This will mean some firefighters now face an increase six years in a row.
The FBU also argue that financial projections from the Government are flawed as they are based on a prediction of a one per cent decline in pension sign-up when their own information suggests that more than 25 per cent of full-time firefighters recruited last year chose not to join.
First published at 16:58, Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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Get on with it you spoiled people,think about the 67 year old,roofers,brickies,steel electors,mechanics etc etc ,having to work heavey and physical jobs with no decent pensions,most of the time firemen are sitting about waiting,then they stand and watch a lot of buildings burn due to health and safety rules
Why do people think this dispute is about money? Is it because that is what motivates YOU? (certain commentors in particular). Help yourself to a second or third job if you wish to it's not illegal, nor is it part of this dispute! It's about being ripped off by governmental politicians reforming a working pension scheme for something a damn site worse and FORCING those paying into it to pay MORE and get LESS. The same politicians who are lining their own pension pots through pay rises and of course the real prospect of being sacked under the capability issues as explained in other posts. Let me put it in a different context to help. Imagine a 60 year old Street Police Officer (male or female) chasing down a 20 year old felon and with another 60 year old Officer as back up? With the greatest respect to the Police, there's only one way that story will end. I suggest you have a taste of how demanding the firefighting job can be and then see if:
a) You could do it at 60
b) You would want firefighters of that age coming to rescue YOU?
Get your facts right about WHY firefighters are striking before making ill-informed and insulting comments on here about some of the finest people on the planet who work hard to make sure YOU are safe in YOUR life...
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