Firefighters on 24-hour strike over new pension scheme

This will be the first 24-hour and longest strike ever seen. Photo: Wikicommons

Starting at 9am on June 12, this will be the first 24-hour and longest strike ever seen. Photo: Wikicommons

Firefighters in Tower Hamlets will join a nationwide series of strikes once again over government plans to plough ahead with a new pension scheme without negotiation.

Surprisingly, this is the first 24-hour and longest strike seen by the organization, and will take place from 9am on Thursday June 12, with another set for 10am-5pm on Saturday June 21.

According to the FBU (Fire Brigades Union), firefighters will not carry out any routine work and rescue services voluntarily overtime during the strike period.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “[Fire minister Brandon Lewis] has decided to bury his head in the sand, but he must accept that firefighters simply will not give up fighting for their futures.”

The decision to have a strike was deliberated over several days. Since March 19, The Department for Communities and Local Government refused to publish “alternative, fully-costed proposals”.

On May 23, Lewis implied an end to discussions with firefighters over the scheme in a consultation.

According to FBU officials, another consultation also failed at the beginning of June, saying that the “appeal fell on deaf ears.”

As a result of the failed consultations, the decision to strike was first made by the executive council of FBU on Wednesday June 4. Tower Hamlets will be one of several areas to participate.

Firefighters are currently paying over £4,000 a year from a £29,000 salary, and the government has announced they will impose another increase in 2015. Before 2010, firefighters already contributed one of the highest proportions of their salary towards their pensions (11 per cent).

Increasing numbers of firefighters now are considering leaving the pension scheme as a result of its decreasing affordability, said FBU officials.

As far as the consequences of this strike are concerned, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government explained: “Public safety remains our prime concern and robust contingency plans are in place to keep people protected.”

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