Firefighters to stage strike in pension row

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Firefighters will stage a four-hour strike next week in a row over pensions.

The government has unveiled plans to raise the pension age for firefighters from 55 to 60 in a move the Fire Brigades Union fears will put lives at risk.

They claim firefighters will be forced to work longer than they are physically able to, or will have to retire early without a pension.

Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “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.”

The strike will take place on Wednesday between midday and 4pm.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed its firefighters will take part.

Secretary for Lincolnshire Fire Brigades Union, Karl McKee, said: “The government insists the new pension scheme with an increase in retirement age to 60 is a good offer and that firefighters’ fears of mass sackings due to age-related fitness tests are totally unfounded.

“However, why in that case has the Scottish government seen fit to address this issue and as such likely avoided potential strike action? It is clear that this is a cynical move by the Westminster government to cut firefighters’ pensions further than they have already, only this time by the back door.

“Firefighting is a physically demanding job and an ageing workforce will not only put firefighters at risk, but the communities we serve as well.”

Fire chiefs have assured the public that plans are in place to provide cover for life-threatening emergency calls during the strike but have warned people to be extra vigilant during that time.

A spokesman from Lincolnshire County Council said: “Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has been officially informed by the Fire Brigades Union of their intention to commence strike action on Wednesday.

“As good practice the service maintains and tests business continuity plans for all eventualities. Consequently, the service is prepared to maintain an emergency response to 999 calls during any periods of strike action.

Firefighters in Cambridge-shire and Leicestershire will also join the strike.