2 July 2014
Firefighters to join mass strike action on 10 July
Firefighters in England and Wales will join hundreds of thousands of other public sector workers taking strike action on Thursday 10 July, the Fire Brigades Union has announced.
The long-running dispute over firefighters’ pensions will see a further day of strikes at the same time as a walk out by local government workers, teachers and civil servants over a range of issues, including attacks on pay and pensions and workloads.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The FBU has wanted to settle our dispute for a long time, but the government at Westminster is simply not listening.
“We are therefore proud to take strike action alongside our colleagues in other unions on 10 July.
“The fact that this government has united so many workers to take strike action against them is a testament to the failure of their policies.
“They are destroying our public services and wrecking the lives of millions.
“If they won’t listen and won’t negotiate then this is the result — and they should face more of the same if necessary.”
It is estimated that as many as two million workers will take strike action.
The firefighters’ dispute has continued for months as the FBU says firefighters are facing the imposition of a pension that ignores the physical demands of the job they do.
Wrack said, “Despite endless assurances they have done precisely nothing to address the threat to firefighters as their fitness declines in their 50s.
“Firefighting is a dangerous and physically demanding job which requires specific fitness standards.
“It is obvious to everyone that it is more and more difficult to meet those standards in your 50s compared to your 20s.
”Firefighters in that position face a stark choice of being sacked or losing half their pension.
“This is outrageous and all the claims that the government values our firefighters have been exposed as an utter lie.
“They need to wake up to the fact that we are not going away and we will be continuing our fight for pension justice.”
The government in N Ireland recently offered firefighters a retirement age of 55, and the FBU says this demonstrates that the Westminster government’s position is not justified by evidence or lack of affordability.
The FBU recently launched a legal challenge against the government’s proposals, saying they have received legal advice that reducing the pensions available to firefighters by different amounts depending on when they retire after 55 amounts to age discrimination.
A recent academic report on firefighter fitness by the University of Bath undermined the government’s proposals by arguing that higher fitness levels are required for the job than those used by the government to defend the idea of firefighters working until 60.
Firefighters were last on strike on Saturday 21 June.