Firefighters to go on strike next week

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union

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Firefighters in West Yorkshire are to stage another 24-hour strike next week.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out from 7am on Wednesday, February 25, as part of a long-running dispute with the government over pensions and retirement age.

The union has accused fire minister Penny Mordaunt of ‘misleading’ MPs over what will happen to firefighters’ pensions if they fail fitness tests.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “It is clear that when Penny Mordaunt gave the guarantee in Parliament she would have been aware that no fire authority ever planned to implement a ‘guarantee’.

“In order to win the vote to pass the flawed firefighters pension regulations Penny Mordaunt misled firefighters and Parliament. The minister is still writing to firefighters telling them they have the guarantee when she clearly knows that they do not.

“Firefighters are unbelievably angry with the disgraceful actions of this government. Firefighters still face the choice of either being sacked or receiving a severely reduced pension if they fail fitness tests as a result of naturally declining fitness through age. Exactly the opposite of what the minister told Parliament.”

Emergency staffing will be provided by community response operatives who have been trained specifically to cover when crews go on strike. The 24 hour strike will be followed by a period of action short of strike - where employees can refuse to undertake certain parts of their role - from 7am on February 26 until further notice.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton, of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It is extremely disappointing that we once again find ourselves planning for yet another period of strike action by our firefighters.

“It is now 18 months since the first strike occurred and since then there have been 48 occasions when the people of West Yorkshire have not been protected by the normal level of highly skilled staff.

“There appears to be no end in sight to this ongoing and damaging dispute - each time a strike occurs the public are once again placed at risk.”