2:01pm Tuesday 31st December 2013
By Ian Craig
FIREFIGHTERS in Worcestershire are to walk out for six hours this evening in the latest strike in a long-running row over pensions.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union in England and Wales will down tools from 6.30pm this evening until 12.30am tomorrow morning.
This is the latest in a series of strikes which have been running since September over proposals by the coalition government which could see firefighters work for longer and pay more into their pensions but receive less when they retire.
The plans will also increase the retirement age to 60, which many have said would put people in danger due to older – and possibly less fit – firefighters responding to emergencies.
Firefighters can currently retire from front-line duties at 50 as long as they have completed 30 years service.
Fire Brigades Union General Secretary Matt Wrack said strike action was being taken as a last resort, but members felt they had little alternative.
“Christmas is just an ordinary working time for firefighters, and our members have been on the front line dealing with storms, floods and other emergencies every day,” he said.
“None of us wanted these strikes, but firefighters on duty over the festive period don’t have much to celebrate this year as they are being priced out of their pensions and face the sack because the government’s can’t accept that 60 year old men and women can’t meet the same fitness standards as 20 year olds.
“We need to see genuine dialogue and real negotiations to resolve this dispute, so perhaps the prime minister would like to come along to visit firefighters on New Year’s Eve and hear directly why they are so angry?”
He added the fact that some firefighters in Kent and Surrey returned to work during the Christmas Eve strike following floods and storms demonstrated members had the concerns of the public at heart.
The next strike is scheduled from 6.30am until 8.30am on Friday, January 3.
© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group