Firefighters in Merseyside to stage fresh wave of strikes

Wirral Globe: FBU members have taken strike action four times in recent months in protest at changes to pensions and their retirement age. Photo courtesy of Press Association. FBU members have taken strike action four times in recent months in protest at changes to pensions and their retirement age. Photo courtesy of Press Association.

Firefighters in Merseyside will join colleagues across England and Wales to launch a fresh wave of strikes tonight in their long-running row with the Government over pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out for four hours from 6pm, and again from the same time tomorrow, with the threat of further action in the new year.

FBU members have taken strike action four times in recent months in protest at changes to pensions and their retirement age, which the union argues threatens older firefighters with losing their jobs.

General secretary Matt Wrack said: "It's now been almost two months since the Government has been willing to meet us for negotiations despite several invitations from us.

"Until they do and until they start to actually resolve the dispute, we'll keep up the pressure for the sake of public safety and our members' pensions.

"In a week when the full details of a £7,600 pay rise for MPs - which will also increase their pensions - emerged, firefighters' anger at the Government's unworkable, unaffordable and unfair proposals will be even greater.

"No firefighter wants to strike, but we cannot allow the Government's ludicrous proposals, and outright hypocrisy, to stand. We'll keep on fighting until the Government sees sense and comes back to negotiations."

The union said firefighters in their late 50s face the prospect of being sacked or seeing their pension reduced by almost half.

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Once again the FBU's actions cast doubt over their claims that they are serious about reaching a negotiated settlement.

"I hosted discussions on fitness issues with the FBU and other organisations on December 4.

"The discussions were constructive but, whilst the consultation was still running, the FBU announced further strikes.

"Firefighters will still get one of the most generous public pension schemes.

"Less than a quarter of firefighters will see any change in their retirement age in 2015 and more firefighters' pensions are protected than in any other large public service workforce."

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