Essex: More firefighter strikes are announced for England and Wales

17:15 24 April 2014

Archant

Firefighters across the country are to stage another three strikes in its ongoing row with the Government over pensions, it has been announced.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said its members in England and Wales would be on strike on Friday (May 2) between noon and 5pm; Saturday (May 3) 2pm-2am; and Sunday (May 4) 10am-3pm.

The union said there would also be a ban on voluntary overtime, running from 3pm on Sunday, May 4, until noon the following Friday.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, the Government is still burying its head in the sand.

“Several members of Government were only too keen to praise firefighters during the winter floods, but their words amount to nothing when they simultaneously ignore issues that threaten the future of firefighters and their families.

“Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute through negotiation, and are ready to meet to consider a workable proposal as soon as possible.”

The FBU has staged a series of strikes – the last on January 3 – following a review into pensions and a proposal that the pension age for firefighters was increased from 55 to 60 – an age the FBU says would prevent firefighters from being able to do their jobs.

Following the latest negotiations on April 9 and 10, the FBU said it wrote to the Government saying that if it hadn’t received any new proposals by April 24, it would “conclude that the government was unwilling or unable to offer any improvement”.

The FBU claimed a return letter from fire minister, Brandon Lewis, did not present any new proposals and, as a result, decided to take further industrial action.

A spokesman for Essex County Fire & Rescue Service, said the service has “strong resilience arrangements” to ensure fire cover is maintained during strike periods.

“But the public can play a part in keeping risk to a minimum by being safer, slower and vigilant during periods of reduced fire cover,” the spokesman added.

“In advance of the strike, families are being urged to check their smoke alarms. Keep an eye on any vulnerable neighbours, friends and family and help them to stay fire safe. If you’re out on the roads, allow extra time for your journey and drive to arrive.

“All businesses should remember to follow up automatic fire alarm alerts with a phone call.”

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