FIREFIGHTERS have this week issued a further eight day period of strike action for next month after revealing the government had not improved their pension proposals.
The Fire Bridges Union said the current proposals in England and Wales were ‘still unworkable’ and mean that firefighters will still face dismissal simply because they cannot maintain the high physical fitness requirements necessary for their role until they are age 60.
The proposals would also mean that if firefighters opt for early retirement, the reduction in their pension would be unacceptably high.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “It is absolutely ludicrous that a government can impose a scheme which means that firefighters will have to ride engines and rescue people from fires up to age 60.
“This is unsafe and unrealistic for both firefighters and the public.
“We know it, and the public know it, but the government will not listen to the evidence based case we have made to them”.
An improved position meaning that firefighters can retire with more flexibility from age 55 has been considered and costed by the government for more than three months but has simply not been offered.
The costings provided by the Government’s Actuary Department and released by DCLG mean firefighters who take early retirement would get a reduced pension of around 10 per cent to 13 per cent rather than the reduction that the government currently proposes.
Proposals incorporating flexible retirement options should be included in an improved offer for the FBU for its members to consider.
Sean Starbuck, FBU national officer, added: “It’s extremely disappointing that we have had to issue more strike dates but the government are simply not listening to our concerns.
“We have a new fire minister but to date she doesn’t appear to have listened to our case.
“The government still has an opportunity to improve their offer which could avoid the need for action.”
No industrial action is being taken in Scotland and N Ireland as improved pension proposals are being discussed.
Starbuck added: “Firefighters are angry as the Westminster government claims we don’t want to resolve this dispute.
“This is absurd as the situation both in Scotland and N Ireland shows this is simply not the case.”
The strikes will take place for eight days from Saturday, August 9 until Saturday, August 16 between 12pm and 2pm and 10.59pm and 11.59pm.