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Firefighters' pensions row heats up

Fire Brigades Union names second strike date

Firefighters in England and Wales announced plans yesterday to stage a second strike in their bitter row with the government over pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union will walk out for five hours from 6.30pm on Saturday October 19.

The first strike took place on September 25 with rallies and pickets in major centres.

The government is demanding firefighters carry out tough front-line duties until the age of 60 or face losing their jobs and part of their pensions.

But the union warns the plan will put the public and firefighters' lives at risk.

The firefighters' pension scheme is also under attack.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "We had hoped our first strike was enough to show government that firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions."

Firefighters in Scotland will not be taking action following a Scottish government offer on pensions which the union said was enough to prevent a strike "at the current time."

Mr Wrack said: "No firefighter wants to strike and it's desperately disappointing that governments in Westminster and Cardiff continue to deny reality over pensions costs and the need for a pension scheme that reflects the job firefighters do.

"Fire-fighters simply cannot be expected to fight fires and rescue families in their late fifties and into their sixties.

"We hope this second strike will mean both governments will be willing to discuss the full range of concerns that firefighters and the general public have expressed.

"However, more strikes cannot be ruled out if that's what it takes to protect public and firefighter safety from these ludicrous attacks."

The union said that changes to pensions and the retirement age will see thousands of fire-fighters lose their jobs "simply for getting older."

Firefighters pay some of the highest pension contributions in Britain - almost 13 per cent of their salary - with further rises due next year, the FBU said.

Mr Wrack added: "If governments in Westminster and Cardiff are willing to discuss these matters seriously, we would be happy to meet tomorrow or any day early next week."


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