Firefighters to strike

Firefighters are to strike for four hours next Wednesday in a row over pensions, the Fire Brigades Union said. Almost 80% voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot earlier this month.

Firefighter strike 'unnecessary and avoidable'

The Government has called a strike called by the Fire Brigades Union "unnecessary", saying firefighters can earn "generous" pensions of £26,000.

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said:

The decision by the FBU to take strike action is entirely unnecessary and avoidable. The pension on offer to firefighters is one of the most generous public service pensions available.

A firefighter who earns £29,000, and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension. To get the same pension from a private scheme firefighters would have to contribute twice as much.

– Brandon Lewis MP

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Why are firefighters going on strike?

The Fire Brigades Union says thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting older:

  • The Government has made what it called a "generous" offer to release full pensions to firefighters when they reach the age of 60.
  • However, a recent review found that more than half of firefighters over 50 are not able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards.
  • The Government previously claimed older firefighters could be moved to less physically demanding roles.
  • The FBU says there will be very few "redeployment" opportunities, making mass sackings inevitable.
  • The union says many staff could lose about 50 percent of their pension as a result.
  • Firefighters already pay some of the highest pension contributions in the UK, with the majority paying almost 13% of their salary.

Fire union: 'Strike a warning shot to government'

The Fire Brigades Union said their planned strike is a "warning shot to government" over the ongoing pensions row.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said:

This initial strike is a warning shot to government. Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions.

Governments in Westminster and Cardiff have simply refused to see sense on these issues.

It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.

None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.