Firefighters stage fourth walk-out over pensions

Firefighters will stage a fourth strike today as union members continue their bitter feud with the Government over pensions

Firefighters will hold a fourth strike today as union members continue their bitter feud with the Government over pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will stage their walk-out between 10am and 2pm and people are being urged to take extra care during this period.

A further ballot for other forms of industrial action has also been announced and this will close on Wednesday, December 4.

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis told firefighters on November 1 that he had withdrawn earlier proposals on firefighters taking their pension before 60.

The FBU has argued that firefighters are likely to experience a decline in fitness in their 50s.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “After 35 years of service — and paying at least £4,000 a year — firefighters could now receive just over £9,000 a year or the sack simply because fitness declines as they get older.

“Firefighters simply want an affordable and workable pension that reflects the job we do. But with employee costs going up, firefighters are being priced out making the scheme threatening its sustainability.

“We’re keen to resolve this through negotiations, but the Government is simply ignoring all the evidence we have submitted.”

The Government has until recently claimed that firefighters who work for 40 years would receive £19,000 a year. Most firefighters take home approximately £1,650 a month.

Most already pay £320 or more a month into their pensions, and from April 2014 this will rise for the third year in a row to over £340 a month. Many firefighters also face a fourth consecutive rise of 2.2% expected in 2015.

The FBU argues that the scheme is one of the most expensive for workers anywhere in the public or private sector.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will be providing a limited response service during the strike and is encouraging the public to take extra care.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) assistant chief fire officer, Chris Lowther, said: “Fires can start for a variety of reasons, from cooking being left unattended, to electrical faults or candles being placed too close to furnishings.

“I cannot emphasise enough to everyone the importance of having working smoke alarms. Every household should have one on every level and they should be checked weekly.

“More than 60% of fires attended by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service start in the kitchen, so we are asking people to take particular care when cooking.

“I would also like to remind business owners to take extra care to protect their employees and premises from fire.

“Managers should have an up to date fire risk assessment, which includes identifying the fire risks on-site and the measures they have put in place to eliminate or reduce those risks such as fire doors and fire alarms systems.”

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