Firefighters plan fresh walk-outs
FIREFIGHTERS are preparing to walk out next month after lengthy negotiations have failed.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union in Swindon will join their colleagues around the country and take industrial action during the May Bank Holiday weekend.
It is part of an on-going dispute with the Government over plans to raise the retirement age and increase pension contributions.
Brent Thorley, the Wiltshire secretary of the FBU, said: “It’s really frustrating that they have been in talks for months now and there’s been very little progress at all.
“The union wrote to the Minister asking that they come up with new proposals by April 24, but instead he sent a letter saying thank you for being co-operative in the talks, nothing about the proposals at all.
“it feels like the Government just wants to do what it wants to do and it is very, very frustrating.
“We know it has to be a compromise and there has to be negotiations but it just feels like the Government aren’t listening.”
Crews at Drove Road, Stratton and Westlea fire stations, as well as others across the county expect to walk out from noon to 5pm on May 2, from 2pm on May 3 to 2am on May 4, and from 10am to 3pm on May 4.
There will also be a ban on voluntary overtime across England and Wales from 3pm on May 4 until noon on May 9.
Mr Thorley said: “We want it to have maximum impact and give a short sharp shock to the Government. We want to hit them hard.”
In recent weeks the FBU has met ACAS, the organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes.
Union officials outlined their concerns and frustration with the lack of any progress.
Despite assurances from the Westminster Fire Minister, Brandon Lewis, that he would seek to address the threat of firefighters being sacked merely for getting older, there has been no change in the Government’s position in recent months.
On April 9 and 10, the union wrote to the Minister saying that if they hadn’t received any new proposals by April 24, they would conclude that the Government was unwilling or unable to offer any improvement.
On April 23 Brandon Lewis responded to the union, praising them for the way they had engaged with Government on several fronts, but did not present any new proposals, so the union’s executive council unanimously decided to strike.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, the Government is still burying its head in the sand.
“Several members of Government were only too keen to praise firefighters during the winter floods. But their words amount to nothing when they simultaneously ignore the issues that threaten the future of firefighters and their families.
“Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute through negotiation, and we are ready to meet them to consider a workable proposal as soon as possible.”
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