Fire crews set to walk out today in pensions dispute

FIREFIGHTERS in Hastings are set to take more strike action this morning (Friday).

The strike action is scheduled to take place across England and Wales from 6.30am to 8.30am.

Fire crews are taking industrial action because of an ongoing dispute with the Government over pensions.

Matt Wrack, the Fire Brigades’ Union’s general secretary, said: “None of us wanted these strikes, but firefighters are being priced out of their pensions and face the sack because the Government can’t accept that 60-year-old men and women can’t meet the same fitness standards as 20-year-olds.”

The union says most firefighters who take home approximately £1,650 a month already pay £320 or more a month into their pensions, and from April 2014 this would rise for the third year in a row to over £340 a month (£4,000 a year).

The union also claims at least two thirds of the current workforce could face either dismissal from the fire service or a reduction in their pensions of almost half because they are unable to maintain the fitness standards required by the fire service beyond the age of 55.

Firefighters in Hastings and across the UK have staged several strikes since September.

The Government wants firefighters to work up to 60 rather than retire at the age of 55, as they currently do.

The Government’s Fire minister Brandon Lewis said the firefighter pension age of 60 will bring their pension age into line with the police and Armed Forces.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) said emergency cover during strike times will be maintained by retained firefighters and those who are not members of the FBU.

It is also asking the public to take extra care during the latest round of industrial action. Firefighters went on strike on Tuesday evening (December 31) from 6.30pm to 12.30am.