Newham firefighters to join national strike over pensions row
PUBLISHED: 17:43 24 April 2014 | UPDATED: 17:43 24 April 2014
Firefighters in Newham will join a series of nationwide strikes next week as part of an ongoing dispute with the government over pensions.
The industrial action in England, Scotland and Wales was voted for and announced today by the Fire Brigades Union, and will see firefighters lay down their hoses on the first weekend of May.
The strikes are set for Friday, May 2, from noon to 5pm, Saturday, May 3, from 2pm to 2am, and Sunday, May 4, between 10am and 3pm.
The union also announced a ban on voluntary overtime in England and Wales from 3pm on May 4 to the same time on May 9, and in Scotland between noon on May 2 and noon on May 9.
The dispute centres on the government’s plans to raise the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60 and increase their pension contributions.
The union fears its members will lose their jobs if they fail fitness tests and cannot find other work in the fire service if the retirement age is increased.
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.
“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.”
Fire minister Brandon Lewis said the government has met with the union several times and offered deals to address their concerns.
He said: “By calling unnecessary strike action, the FBU has shown it is not serious about finding a resolution to this dispute for its members and stands only to further damage firefighters’ standing with the public.”