Firefighters in England and Wales will strike on eight consecutive days this month, saying that the current proposals by government are unacceptable, unworkable, unrealistic and nothing short of a “vicious“ attack on firefighters’ pensions.
The Fire Brigades Union has been in negotiations with the Government for three years in an attempt to avoid the implementation of proposals that they say would see firefighters paying more, working longer and receiving less.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The Government must realise that firefighters cannot accept proposals that would have such devastating consequences for their futures, their families’ futures — and the future of the fire and rescue service itself.
“We have tried every route available to us to make the government see sense over their attacks.
“Three years of negotiations have come to nothing because the government is simply unwilling to compromise or even listen to reason despite a huge amount of evidence showing their planned scheme is unworkable.
“Shorter strike periods have illustrated the strength of feeling amongst firefighters whilst limiting disruption to the fire service, the public and our members’ working lives.
“But the Government is merely ploughing ahead, forcing firefighters to react.”
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) said it is awaiting further details of an indefinite period of action short of a strike‟, which is planned to start following the final period of actual strike.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “The series of strike dates the Fire Brigades Union has announced over an eight-day period demonstrates a clear change of tactics with regard to the on-going industrial dispute.
“The short and frequent strikes will mean the people of West Yorkshire will be without their regular level of fire cover on an extended basis. We must now review our contingency plans in light of this change of tactic to ensure that we provide the best service we can.
“This will be a challenge, and our ability to provide a speedy response to emergencies with the range and type of resources we ordinarily provide will be compromised every day during this period.
“The issue of community safety is of utmost importance to us and we will work to provide the best service we can to protect life, property and the environment. It is important that both the Minister and the Fire Brigades Union seek to resolve this
dispute at the earliest opportunity.”
During negotiations, the FBU said the Government imposed a third annual increase in firefighters’ pension contributions, taking them to 14.2% for most firefighters — one of the highest in the public or private sector.
The FBU has launched a legal challenge against the Government’s proposals, saying they have received advice that the current proposals reducing firefighters pensions by almost 50% at age 55 is unlawful and amounts to age discrimination.
Strikes will take place on:
Monday, July 14, from 6am to 8am and from 5pm to 7pm.
Tuesday, July 15, from 6am to 8am and from 5pm to 7pm.
Wednesday, July 16, from 6am to 8am and from 5pm to 7pm.
Thursday, July 17, between 6am and 8am and between 5pm and 7pm.
Friday, July 18 from 6am to 8am and 11am to 1pm on Saturday, July 19.
Saturday, July 19, from 11am to 1pm and 11pm to 1pm on Sunday, July 20
Sunday, July 20, between 7pm and 9pm.
Monday, July 21, between 6am and 8am and between 5pm and 7pm.
Firefighters are also due to strike next week on Thursday, July 10 — the 15th in their campaign