11 October 2013
Firefighters in England and Wales set Saturday 19 October as date for second
The FBU has now announced that firefighters in England and Wales will strike again over government attacks on pensions on Saturday 19 October.
On the day, a firefighter preparing to begin the strike, which will last five hours from 6.30pm to 11.30pm, will speak at the Unite the Resistance ‘Organising to Win’ national conference (http://uniteresist.org/2013/07/unite-the-resistance-conference-19-october-organising-to-win/).
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said: “Firefighters simply cannot be expected to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s and into their 60s, and should not pay far worse ratios employer-employee contributions than those in the public or private sector.
“We hope this second strike will mean both governments will be willing to discuss the full range of concerns that firefighters and the general public have expressed.
“However, more strikes cannot be ruled out if that’s what it takes to protect public and firefighter safety from these ludicrous attacks.”
Firefighters in Scotland will not strike, after voting in a consultation that proposals from the Scottish Government are sufficient to prevent a strike at the current time, although the union has been keen to emphasise that no final settlement has been made.
The FBU pointed out that the government’s own figures have shown that thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting older.
A recent government review found that over half of current firefighters between the ages of 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards for fighting fires. Beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to meet the standards.
And although the government has previously claimed that older firefighters could be moved to less physically demanding roles, FBU research found only a handful of ‘redeployment’ opportunities in fire and rescue services, meaning mass sackings would be inevitable.
Firefighters already pay some of the highest pension contributions in the UK public or private sector and have seen increases for two consecutive years. The majority of firefighters already pay almost 13 percent of their salary in contributions with further increases due next year. This will mean some firefighters now face an increase six years in a row.
The FBU strike on 19 October takes place at the end of a week of workers’ resistance to the Tories’ assault on working class people. It follows a national demonstration of firefighters in London on 16 October, in the wake of the result from the CWU post workers’ national strike ballot, and after a strike of tens of thousands of teachers in the NUT and NASUWT unions across London and the South, the South West and the North East of England on 17 October.
On the day of the FBU strike, hundreds of trade union activists and campaigners will gather at the Unite the Resistance conference to hear from speakers from the different struggles of workers getting organised and to discuss in workshops throughout the day how to develop the united fightback we need to defeat the Tories.