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Four day fire strike called off in Wales

Firefighters have been campaigning against a retirement age increase Credit: FBU

A four day strike by firefighters that was due to affect all English and Welsh fire services won't go ahead in Wales. It will still take place in England, starting on Friday. The Fire Brigades Union says there has been "a significant change of direction" by the Welsh government in a long running pensions dispute.

While the Westminster government continue to ignore the concerns raised by firefighters, the Welsh government have now suggested an improved proposal that could significantly improve the position for a large number of firefighters in Wales. This would involve altering the way firefighters could choose to retire before the age of 60.

– Fire Brigades Union

The UK government wants to raise firefighters' retirement age from 55 to 60, which their union says would leave them facing dismissal if they are no longer physically able to do the job. The FBU expects the UK government to make the change without any further consultation before a vote at Westminster.

Extending the change to Wales would require a vote in the Assembly. The union says it's received a letter from the Welsh Government saying that the new Minister for Public Services, Leighton Andrews, will first consult "on pension scheme design that will differ from the one proposed in England".

This could be a significant improvement for a significant number of firefighters and cannot be ignored. The Welsh Government ... acted ... whilst the Westminster government continues to ignore all the evidence. It does support our view that strike action is avoidable if there is a willingness to do so but the Westminster government doesn’t seem to want that.

– FBU General Secretary Mick Wrack

The union says that suspending strike action in Wales is a temporary measure whilst it waits to see what its Welsh members are offered. Firefighters' terms and conditions are not at present devolved and there have not yet been any detailed discussions about the future position in Wales. The Welsh Government declined to comment.

Firefighters on strike across Wales

Firefighters face changes to their pensions and retirement age. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Firefighters in Wales are today joining their colleagues in England by going on strike in a continuing row with the UK Government over pensions.

It's the latest in a series of walk-outs. They'll strike for 5 hours starting at 10am.

Fire chiefs have urged people to be extra vigilant, and avoid throwing cigarettes onto grass land, which will be dry because of the current hot weather.

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Firefighters resume strike action in pensions dispute

Firefighters across Wales are to join their colleagues in England and Scotland later in the latest of a series of strikes over the bank holiday weekend.

In England and Wales, firefighters will go on strike between 2pm and 2am.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called the strike as the on-going dispute with the UK Government over pensions continues.

Welsh firefighters walk out in pensions dispute

Firefighters in Wales walked out at midday in a five-hour strike.

Firefighters in Cardiff this morning Credit: Tom Sheldrick/ITV News

Along with colleagues in England, they are in a long-running dispute over pensions. The UK Government says it has met union leaders on many occasions and there is 'ongoing communication' to find a solution.

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Fire strike action 'unnecessary' says minister

Fire Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, says the government is offering firefighters "one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector."

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.

The government has met with the FBU on many occasions, most recently during April, and has remained in ongoing communication to find a solution.

The deal on the table gives firefighters one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector, and the proposals protect the earned rights of a higher proportion of members than any other public sector scheme. Nearly half will see no change and even firefighters who are not protected will see no change until 2015.

Under the new scheme, a firefighter who earns £29,000 will still be able to retire after a full career aged 60, get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension. An equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much.

– Brandon Lewis MP, Fire Minister

UK Govt 'burying its head in the sand' says fire union

The UK Government has been accused of "burying its head in the sand" in the ongoing pensions dispute with the Fire Brigades Union.

Firefighters in Wales are joining their colleagues in England and Scotland later in the latest strike action over the row.

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.

Several members of government were only too keen to praise firefighters during the winter floods, but their words amount to nothing when they simultaneously ignore issues that threaten the future of firefighters and their families.

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.

– Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary

Fire service received 'multiple calls' of flooding during strike action

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service say they received 'multiple calls' of flooding in Treorchy whilst on strike last night.

Up to 30 homes were evacuated in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area and a rescue centre was set up to help residents.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union across England and Wales staged their sixth walk-out since September in a row over pensions.

The strike happened between 6pm and 10pm.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said he was pleased with how South Wales Fire and Rescue Service had managed its services during the strike action.

“As expected, the number of Firefighters from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service who chose to strike was high, which resulted in a large reduction in the resources that we had at our disposal.

"As such, we were unable to provide the same high level of response to incidents as we normally would and as a consequence prioritised our response to those in most critical need."

Rod Hammerton also added that contingency plans were put in place in collaboration with South Wales Police and the ambulance service to "ensure that the necessary advice was available to ensure that the resources that the public needed were available as quickly as possible."

It is unclear whether there will be further action by firefighters.

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