Ahead of today’s strike, members of the Fire Brigades Union have expressed their views on the “ludicrous” pensions row that could leave communities with 60-year-old firefighters.
Beds fire crews will walk out for four hours across the country between 12pm and 4pm this afternoon over ‘unsafe, unfair and unworkable’ pensions proposals by Central Government.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, 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.”
Keith Handscomb, of East Anglia FBU, said: “Responding to terrorist attacks, flash-floods, rescuing people and their families from car, train and plane crashes - and of course fighting fires inside very hot, smoke-filled, burning buildings - is a dangerous, dirty and physically demanding job.
“It’s not a job for the faint-hearted and, as the Government’s own expert evidence shows, it’s not a job firefighters can perform at the high fitness levels required up to the age of 60.
“But despite their own expert report highlighting the dangers the Government has decided 60 year old firefighters it will be. The same expert evidence also points out that up to two-thirds of firefighters will face the sack in their late 50’s as a result before they can even reach their new pension age. The whole situation is ludicrous!”
“Everyone inside the fire service knows and most politicians agree in private that the new pension plans for firefighters are ludicrous and unworkable.
“We cannot be part of this lie. We cannot pretend it is fair or safe for firefighters or for the public.
“What will work are occupational pensions fit for the actual occupation modern-day firefighter do.”
“No firefighters want to go on strike, but the Government at Westminster aren’t listening. Whereas firefighters in Scotland will not be on strike today because they have a government that agrees the Westminster Government have got it wrong and are willing to negotiate improved terms.
“So why is the Fire Minister, Brandon Lewis, and the Government so hell-bent on pushing these unworkable pension changes through? Perhaps they are too busy playing politics to do what everyone else knows is right.”