Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Firefighters in London will strike over pensions next week, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced.
Almost 80 per cent voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot that ended earlier this month, and Matt Wrack, the union’s general secretary, said his members did not want to walk out, but could not ‘compromise on public and firefighter safety’.
The strike action will take place on on Wednesday, September 25 between noon and 4pm.
Mr Wrack 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.”
The FBU say the government’s own figures have shown ‘thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting older’.
A spokesman for thre union said: “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.”
The strike action by London firefighters comes after Boris Johnson was heckled by members of the FBU at a meeting last week over plans to shut 10 stations, remove 14 fire engines and axe more than 550 jobs.
They protested outside City Hall and packed out the public gallery to express their anger at the Mayor of London’s plans, saying they will put Londoners at risk.
London Assembly Labour Group Fire spokesperson, Fiona Twycross AM, said: “No-one wants to see this fire strike go ahead, but the FBU and its members are being put in an impossible position.”
“All of this is happening against a backdrop of deep cuts to frontline fire services in London. Boris is axing 10 fire stations, 14 fire engines and 552 firefighters.
“It is time the Mayor and the government valued our frontline emergency services and the brave men and women who keep us all safe.”