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Firefighters go out on strike over pensions battle with Government
2:47pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS across Dudley borough went on strike today in their battle with the Government over pensions.
The Fire Brigades Union called the strike from 12pm until 4pm across the country and staff at local stations walked out.
Firefighters at Dudley fire station received an emergency call two minutes before midday and observed the strike afterwards.
Speaking outside Stourbridge striking fire station watch commander Brian Wallace said: “Firefighters never like going out on strike but the Government have totally moved the goalposts on the deal we signed up for.
“When I signed up 25 years ago I did so in good faith and now they are altering the contracts and pensions.
“There is also a safety issue as well because there are less and less fire engines on duty as they are being replaced by emergency response vehicles which are just not the same.”
Deputy leader of Dudley Council, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stourbridge and Lye Councillor Pete Lowe visited the picket line at Stourbridge fire station.
He said: “I am fully supporting our firefighters today in their fight for a decent pension and I want it known that I support public sector workers who are having their pensions cut in this way.
“Firefighters signed up for their pensions and now the Government, like with other public sector workers, are taking their pensions away.”
Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris is disappointed the strike went ahead.
He said: ““I am disappointed that it wasn’t possible to find an agreement with the FBU but I would like to thank those firefighters who have continued to work so that people’s safety is not put at risk unnecessarily.
“I can understand why many local firefighters I speak to are genuinely upset that their pensions are having to be reformed like other public sector pension schemes, but when firefighters retiring at 55 can expect to live another 31.6 years, the current scheme would clearly not be sustainable without huge additional subsidy from taxpayers.
“The Government changed the original proposals, accepting many of the FBU’s demands; firefighters will still be able to retire when they are 55 and those firefighters who do work until they are 60 will get a £19,000 pension on top of the £7,000 basic state pension that they will receive when they reach the normal retirement age.”
West Midlands Fire Service put contingency plans into place due to the strike which included help from the Army.
Area Commander Paul Burnham, head of emergency response for WMFS, said: “We’ll be providing all the protection we can with the staff we have available during the strike - but this will be a reduced service. We are also asking people to take extra care during the four hours, whether they’re at home or out and about. Vigilance and common sense can make the difference between needing to call 999 or not.”
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