Fire union strike

Fire union strike

A fire union strike will take place this coming Friday and the following Monday, as the battle rages over pension cutbacks.

The Fire Brigades Union ( FBU ) is organising the walkout, which comes either side of Bonfire Night, one of the busiest times of year for fire departments.

Union chiefs are angry that the government has not relented on the planned changes to firefighters pensions, which will see many working until they are 60.

This is controversial as many feel 60 is too old to deal with the rigours of firefighting.

It is the third and fourth time that dates for a strike have been set, although the previous round of walkouts on 19 October were cancelled as the government agreed to hold negotiations with the union.

In the first round of action some 32,000 firefighters across England and Wales walked out.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary accused the government of creating a “mess”, but refusing to clear it up.

““The FBU has been very reasonable, but we are now faced with broken promises and those in power evading their responsibilities. Firefighters face the sack towards the end of their career and the loss of their pension. That can’t be right,” he protested.

“The employers promised to tackle the issue of firefighters facing the sack for failing fitness tests last week, only to say they can’t offer any guarantees this week. That is simply not the way to run a public service.”

Fire minister Brandon Lewis expressed his dismay at news of the walkout.

“We facilitated further discussions between the FBU and employers over the issue of firefighter fitness,” he said.

“Talks were progressing encouragingly and in good faith so for the FBU to walk away after only four days of negotiation is completely baffling.”

The strike will take place on 1 November from 6.30pm to 11pm, then on 4 November from 6am to 8am.

“The evening strike date falls on the Friday before bonfire night, said London fire commissioner Ron Dobson.

“It is just before Diwali and coincides with half-term, so people need to be really careful with fireworks and bonfires.”

There will be 27 fire engines based at strategic points across the capital to deal with fires during the strikes and there is a similar fallback plan in place across the rest of the country.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

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