Firefighters set to strike for eight consecutive days this month

The Fire Brigades Union is leading a campaign of strike action over an ongoing dispute with the government over firefighters' pensions
The Fire Brigades Union is leading a campaign of strike action over an ongoing dispute with the government over firefighters' pensions

Firefighters in England and Wales including Warwickshire will strike on eight consecutive days this month due to the ongoing dispute with the government over pensions.

The action will start on Monday July 14 and last until Monday July 21 and will be broken up into two-hour periods starting at 6am and 5pm during the week days, 6am and 11pm on the Friday, 11am and 11pm on Saturday and 5pm on the Sunday.

The Fire Brigades Union has been in negotiations with the government for three years in an attempt to avoid the implementation of proposals that it says would lead to firefighters paying more, working longer and receiving less.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The government must realise that firefighters cannot accept proposals that would have such devastating consequences for their futures, their families’ futures — and the future of the fire and rescue service itself.

“We have tried every route available to us to make the government see sense over their attacks.

“Three years of negotiations have come to nothing because the government is simply unwilling to compromise or even listen to reason despite a huge amount of evidence showing their planned scheme is unworkable.

“Shorter strike periods have illustrated the strength of feeling amongst firefighters whilst limiting disruption to the fire service, the public and our members’ working lives.

“But the government is merely ploughing ahead, forcing firefighters to react.”

A recent academic report on firefighter fitness by the University of Bath undermined the government’s proposals by arguing that higher fitness levels are required for firefighting than those suggested by the government to defend the idea of working until 60.

In comparison the government in N Ireland recently offered firefighters a retirement age of 55.

The FBU says this demonstrates that the Westminster government’s position is not justified by evidence or lack of affordability.

Mr Wrack said: “The offer in N Ireland was achieved through negotiation without any industrial action being necessary.

“This clearly shows that if both sides are willing to talk, things can be resolved.

“This makes a mockery of the government’s claims that the union is walking away from talks.”

During negotiations with the FBU, the government in Westminster recently imposed a third annual increase in firefighters’ pension contributions, taking them to 14.2% for most firefighters — one of the highest in the public or private sector.

“This means that a firefighter with a salary of less than £29,000 now pays around £4,000 a year for a pension that is being devalued and attacked — and the government has now issued proposals for a fourth-year increase for many firefighters.

The FBU also recently launched a legal challenge against the government’s proposals, saying it has received advice that the current proposals reducing firefighters pensions by almost 50 per cent at age 55 is unlawful and amounts to age discrimination.

Firefighters are also due to strike next week on Thursday 10 July — the 15th in their campaign — alongside local government workers, teachers and civil servants, who are campaigning over a range of issues, including attacks on pay and pensions and workloads.

Firefighters voted by 78 per cent for strike action in August last year.