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Firefighters step up pension row

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Firefighters will walk out on strike for the sixth time in three months next weekend as a bitter row over pensions rumbles on.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out for four hours from 6pm on Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14.

The government wants to raise firefighters’ retirement age from 55 to 60 and to increase their individual pension contributions.

Firefighters have already held four strikes over the issue since September.

The union accused the Government of “ignoring” concerns about increasing contributions which will lead to firefighters paying thousands of pounds more into their pensions.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This further action is entirely the responsibility of central government.

“Expecting men and women at the age of 60 to meet the same fitness standards required of 20-year-olds is just not logical.”

The union claims the changes will see firefighters made redundant if they fail their fitness tests.

Mr Wrack said: “The government’s plans are to create a pension scheme which takes no account of the physically demanding job firefighters do and the fitness standards they need to meet.

“We demand the government sorts out the mess it has got itself into on this issue.”

FBU members have also voted in favour of taking action short of a strike, such as the withdrawal of goodwill.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was working with the union and the government to try and resolve the situation.

Dave Walton, assistant chief officer, said: “Naturally, we are disappointed with the result of the ballot which the union has announced today in support of their campaign on Firefighters pensions.

“Their proposal for ‘action short of a strike’ will run in parallel to the existing programme of strike action, and we are as yet unclear what form this action will take. We continue to urge both the Minister and the Fire Brigades Union to seek a resolution to this dispute.”

 

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