Firefighters to strike over pension changes

Firefighters are to take strike action on 25 September over the government’s reforms to their pension scheme.

Almost 80% of members of the Fire Brigades Union in England and Wales who were polled voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot earlier in September.

The proposed pension changes, which are set out in the Public Service Pensions Bill 2013, include a move to career-average pension schemes, instead of final salary schemes, and a set employer cost cap to ensure that public sector pensions remain affordable and sustainable.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to government. Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions. Governments in Westminster and Cardiff have simply refused to see sense on these issues.

“It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered. None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.”

Ron Dobson, London fire commissioner, added: “It is very unfortunate that we are in another period of industrial action, but we are prepared and our contingency fire service is ready to operate on the strike date which has been announced.”