Firefighters to walk out over pensions

Firefighters on strike in May
Firefighters on strike in May

FIREFIGHTERS are staging another day-long strike next Saturday (June 21) as part of their ongoing dispute with the Government over the future of firefighters’ pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) from both The Ridge and Bohemia Road stations walked out yesterday (Thursday) from 9am for a day of industrial action.

Next Saturday’s strike, which runs from 10am to 5pm, is part of a nationwide picket.

More than a dozen walk-outs have taken place since last September.

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

The FBU says Whitehall is also proposing that contributions firefighters pay towards their pension from their salary increase to 14.2 per cent, the current rate being 13.2.

Union bosses also believe it is impractical for firefighters to work beyond the age of 55 which they said is backed up by the Anthony Williams report, commissioned by the Government itself.

Mark Brown, the FBU’s brigade secretary for East Sussex, said: “We have reached an impasse with negotiations and are left with no choice but to show our frustration through industrial action. Our sticking point is that there is no employee protection for a firefighter who is not fit to work after 55. They would be dismissed and not get their pension until they were 67.”

The FBU said under the Government’s proposals, firefighters who are forced to retire before the age of 60 as a result of ageing will have half of their pension taken away.

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’s chief fire officer and chief executive Des Prichard said: “In previous strikes, we have been able to prioritise life-threatening incidents and deal effectively with the emergency situations we’ve been called to. We will continue to do this and so ask the public to make sure they do their bit.

“We won’t have as many crews available as usual and so cover will be reduced to prevent the need to call 999. Our advice remains the same if you do have a fire, get out, stay out and dial 999.”