Firefighters to strike this weekend over pension row

Firefighters on strike at Hornchurch fire station earlier this year

Firefighters on strike at Hornchurch fire station earlier this year - Credit: Archant

Firefighters from Romford, Hornchurch, Wennington and Harold Hill stations will strike this weekend in a row over pensions.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced its members in England and Wales will strike on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 December, from 6pm to 10pm in protest at what they see as unfair changes to pension plans and unrealistic fitness demands.

Firefighters currently taking home £1,650 a month and paying £340 a month into the pension scheme face a retirement pension of £9,000 a year if they are unable to meet the physical demands of the job after age 55 – even if they have been paying into the fund for 35 years.

This latest strike action will be the sixth strike since the end of September and will see the stations on Pettits Lane North, North Street, Wennington Road and Ashton Road, shut for four hours over both nights.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The government is ignoring our member’s concerns about increasing contributions which will mean most firefighters paying more than £4,000 a year towards their pensions. At 14.2% of pay this is one of the most expensive pension schemes for workers anywhere in the UK.

“The government’s plans are to create a pension scheme which takes no account of the physically demanding job firefighters do and the fire service fitness standards they need to meet. Expecting men and women at the age of 60 to meet the same fitness standards required of 20-year-olds is just not logical. Unfortunately the government is ignoring all the evidence on this issue, including its own reports. It is a callous way to treat men and woman who have put their lives on the line to protect others. Firefighters are being punished for growing older. This is a disgrace. Politicians often praise the work of our members. The very same people are destroying our pension rights and imposing an expensive and unworkable pension which will mean thousands facing the sack as their fitness declines. It is simply not acceptable.”

The London Fire Brigade Service have an agreement with contractors to cover emergencies during these periods. Twenty-seven fire engines will be placed in strategic spots across London to respond to emergencies.

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During the strike firefighters will attend serious fires in homes, fires that involve gas cylinders or hazardous substances,

explosions, road traffic collisions and railway and vehicle fires.

They will not attend grass or rubbish fires, animal rescues, people stuck in lifts or flooding.

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