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28/04/2014 - Firefighters to strike

merseysidefirefightersFirefighters in England, Scotland and Wales are to take further strike action over pensions.

Their Union, the FBU, announced its members will strike between noon and 5pm on May 2nd, between 2pm on May 3rd and 2am on May 3rd and again between 10am and 3pm on May 4th. There will also be a ban on voluntary overtime across England and Wales from 3pm on May 4th until noon on May 9th.

In Scotland there will be a ban on voluntary overtime between noon on Friday 2 May and noon on Friday 9 May.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, the government is still burying its head in the sand.

“Several members of government were only too keen to praise firefighters during the winter floods, but their words amount to nothing when they simultaneously ignore issues that threaten the future of firefighters and their families.

“Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute through negotiation, and are ready to meet to consider a workable proposal as soon as possible.”

Negotiations between the FBU and the Department for Communities and Local Government — as well as the devolved governments — have been taking place for three years, and since the last strike on 3 January 2014, both the union and government have undertaken work examining financial, technical and legal issues.

Over recent weeks the FBU has met with ACAS, the organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes, where union officials outlined their concerns and frustration with the lack of any progress.

Although during negotiations the Westminster fire minister assured firefighters that he would seek to address the threat of firefighters being sacked merely for getting older, there has been no change in the government’s position.

While negotiations were continuing, 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, and issued proposals for a fourth year increase for many.

Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented:

"Firefighters are not getting a fair deal on their pensions. The government needs to negotiate seriously before more strikes are called."