Fire crews plan more strikes over Christmas

 

Firefighters are to strike on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and launch a ban on overtime in an escalation of their long-running dispute with the Government over pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales will walk out for five hours from 7pm on December 24, for six hours from 6.30pm on December 31 and for two hours from 6.30am on January 3.

FBU members in Scotland will also join the industrial action for the first time since the row flared, by joining a ban on overtime.

Between 7pm on December 27 and 7pm on the 29th, all firefighters in the union across England, Wales and Scotland will refuse to work voluntary overtime.

It will be the first time firefighters in the three nations will be taking industrial action in the bitter row over retirement age and pensions.

FBU members in England and Wales stopped work on Friday and Saturday evenings, so after the new walkouts, the union will have staged nine separate strikes since September.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters provide a first-class standard of service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and these strikes will remind Government just how reliant they are on our members' professionalism, commitment and flexibility.

"However, there should be no need for industrial action, and it's absurd that firefighters' concerns over pensions have not been addressed already."

The union has been arguing that firefighters in their late 50s face the prospect of being sacked or seeing their pension reduced by almost half because of changes in the retirement age.

Negotiations have been continuing in Scotland, making enough progress to avert strikes, but the union said no settlement had been made.

The FBU said firefighters' pension schemes are among the most expensive for workers anywhere in the public or private sector, but among the cheapest proportionally for the Government.

Most firefighters, who take home approximately £1,650 a month, already pay £320 or more a month into their pensions, and from next April this would rise for the third year in a row to more than £340 a month (£4,000 a year), with many facing a fourth consecutive rise of 2.2% in 2015, said the FBU.

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: "The decision by FBU leaders to interrupt the Christmas holiday season with unnecessary industrial action is completely cynical.

"I met with the FBU on December 4 to continue discussions but their actions today show that they are not serious about resolving this dispute, which simply further damages firefighters' standing with the public.

"The deal on the table gives firefighters one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector. 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. An equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require fire-fighters to contribute twice as much.

"I would like to reassure the public that there are robust contingency arrangements in place."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future