Firefighters Strike over Pensions in Croydon

Michael Nick Barratt

Watch Manager from Norbury Fire Station: Michael Nick Barratt. Pics: Qianru Wu & Laerke Nielsen

After 3 years of trying to negotiate the fire brigade pension without success (10 fire stations across London being closed in January this year), the firefighters are now on strike. (Disposal Strategy for stations being closed under LSP5)

The first strike started on Friday 2nd May, between noon and 5pm. The second one will happen on Saturday 3th May (2pm-2am) and Sunday 4th May (10am-3am).

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales walked out saying it does not agree with the government to increase the retirement age and make changes to pensions.

Most firefighters say they are worried about the scheme as they may not fit enough to cope with their work after 50 and they may be sacked before retiring.

Proposed final agreement on the design for the firefighters’ pension scheme in England to be introduced.

Matt Wrack is FBU general secretary, and told the Croydon Guardian about his concerns:

“After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes account the unique occupation of firefighting, the government is still burying its head in the sand.

“It is purely the failure of the Government to present revised proposals that has led to these strikes. Now the Government is walking away from talks. It is utterly irresponsible.”

Norbury Fire station. Pics: Qianru Wu &Laerke Nielsen

Norbury Fire station. Pics: Qianru Wu &Laerke Nielsen

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (Firefighters’ pension scheme reforms) said:

‘It is the union executive’s decision to call this strike that effectively ended its discussions with the Government.’

‘It shows the executive is not serious about finding a resolution for its members. The Government is clear that further change can be made through constructive engagement, but not under the shadow of industrial action, which only serves to damage firefighters’standing with the public.’ ‘The deal on the table gives firefighters one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector, and the proposals protect the earned rights of a higher proportion of members than any other public sector scheme.’ ‘Nearly three-quarters will see no change in their pension age in 2015.’

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