Firefighters set to strike
6:01pm Friday 30th August 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS from across Gwent are set to strike against what a union spokesman described as the Government’s unworkable pension scheme.
After two years of negotiations with the Westminster Government, a deadline for proposals to be accepted set by the Fire Brigades Union has passed.
A ballot took place with the results released on Thursday showing that 18,277 or 78 per cent of members from around the UK are in favour of strike action.
The FBU argues that firefighters are being asked to pay far more into their pension scheme, although more than half will be sacked before they are able to retire.
A spokesman said a recent Government review found that over 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. Beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to meet the standards.
And although it says the Government has previously claimed that older firefighters could be moved to less physically demanding roles, FBU research found only a handful of redeployment opportunities in fire and rescue services, meaning mass sackings would be inevitable.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We cannot expect large numbers of firefighters in their late-50s to fight fires and rescue families without creating danger to the public and firefighters.
“We have repeatedly raised safety concerns and provided strong evidence to back it up but the Government just isn’t listening. This result is a clear indication of the anger felt by firefighters.”
The union has not yet set strike dates and will talk to Government ministers and fire service employers in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
South Wales Fire and Rescue was yesterday (Friday) informed of the vote and assistant fire officer Rod Hammerton said it will strive to deliver an emergency service to the best of its ability if strike action occurs.
He said: “Our priority at this time is to make sure the public have the information they need to reduce risk in their homes, communities, businesses and roads across south Wales. We will do this via regular press statements and press releases, we will use our website and social media sites (Facebook and Twitter).
“This is a dispute between the Fire Brigade’s Union and Government Ministers and as employers and managers we hope this matter is quickly brought to a safe and acceptable conclusion for all parties”.
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