Firefighters to stage walk-outs

FIREFIGHTERS in town will be staging two further strikes this week.

From 6pm to 11pm today (Friday) and between the same times tomorrow (Saturday), members of the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) at both Bohemia Road and The Ridge Fire Stations are taking part in the latest round of national walk-outs.

The industrial action has been called because the FBU says it is no closer to resolving the present dispute with the Government over the future of firefighters’ pensions.

Today’s and tomorrow’s walk-out will be fifth and sixth strike respectively since September.

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

Mark Brown, the FBU’s brigade secretary for East Sussex, said under the proposed changes firefighters will not be able to get their full pension until the age of 60.

He added that the Government is also proposing that the contributions firefighters pay towards their pension from their salary increases to 14.2 per cent. The rate is currently 13.2 per cent.

The FBU also believes it is impractical for firefighters to work beyond the age of 55 and this was backed up by the Anthony Williams report, commissioned by the Government itself.

“The report states that in the worst case scenario 85 per cent of firefighters will not reach pensionable age and be able to keep their level of fitness,” Mr Brown said.

He added: “We are no further forward in resolving this dispute and finding a suitable solution. We are angry and the Government’s proposals are horrendous. We want this all resolved as soon as possible.”

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.

A spokesman said: “Although crews made up of non-FBU members and retained firefighters will continue to respond to emergencies during the strike, cover will inevitably be reduced and priority will be given to calls where lives are at risk. Our advice remains the same. If you have a fire, get out, stay out and dial 999.”