Fire fighters strike for three days over pensions

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Fire fighters across Bedfordshire are holding a three-day strike in response to stalled negations over pensions.

Bedfordshire Fire Brigade Union Secretary Jamie Newell said the majority of the county’s fire fighters were manning picket lines at stations throughout Bedfordshire.

The strikes come as a reaction to the Government’s changes in the pension scheme which would see any fire fighter leaving the service before reaching 60 years old losing up to 47 per cent of their pension.

This is despite having to pay 14 per cent of their wages into the scheme, which is about £4,000 a year from a salary of less than £29,000.

Mr Newell said the union has been in negotiations for the past three years over the deal, which he says is becoming unaffordable to most fire fighters.

He said: “Very few people make it to the pension age of 60 still working as a fire fighter under current fitness standards. About 92 per cent will leave before then.

“There has been talk about redeploying older fire fighters as the service moves into a more preventative role, but in reality there are very few example of this.”

The Fire Brigades Union has made it clear to the fire minister, Brandon Lewis, it is available to discuss this issue with him any time.

The brigade has ensured there is emergency cover during the industrial action. Mr Newell has emphasised it is vital during this time that people take note of its general safety advice: leave extra time for car journeys; check smoke alarms; keep all internal doors closed at night to slow the spread of fire in the home.

He added should anyone wish to support the fire fighters, or talk to them about the action they can visit their local station. He said: “People would be shocked to hear of examples of how fire fighters have been cut adrift by this government.”

Today’s strike, Friday, May 2, will end at 5pm. Picket lines will be back on Saturday, May 3, from 2pm to 2am, and from 10am to 3pm on Sunday, May 4.