December 11 2013 Latest news:
Freddy Mayhew, Reporter
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Firefighters stood on picket lines today as a dispute over pensions saw no sign of ending.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (LFB) carried out a nationwide stoppage from midday to 4pm with crews at all stations in Newham taking part.
Members of the public showed their support by tooting their horns and waving as they drove past while fire cover across London was left to a contingency service of 27 pumps who responded to 84 calls in four hours, none in the borough.
Firefighter of seven years, Chris Lock, said: “It’s quite surprising, we didn’t expect to get as much support as we have been getting and it’s really nice to see.”
The dispute between the government and the LFB centres on the increased retirement age of firefighters from 55 to 60 and union representatives have said more strikes could be on the cards unless negotiations resume.
“Hopefully they can sit down and thrash something out that is going to be good for everybody,” added Chris.
“We are all union members so if the union is saying that the strike is going to continue it will.”
Firefigher Damian Wakeman added: “We enjoy doing the job and don’t want to see anybody getting hurt.”
Incidents attended during the strike included three fires, three road traffic collisions, and two false alarms.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “While I am pleased that our contingency service has proved itself today I hope the pensions dispute between the FBU and the Government can be resolved without further industrial action so that they are not needed again.”
It is the first time in more than a decade that nationwide industrial action had been taken.
Sympathy for the strike action came from other the leaders of other national unions, including from Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady.
He said there were many reasons why the government shouldn’t be “pressing ahead with these unfair and ill-thought out changes”.
He added: “Being able to save people from burning buildings or rescue them from the scene of a multiple vehicle pile-up requires not just bravery, but a good deal of physical strength too.”