Relief at fire strike peace
Firefighters across the town picketed outside stations yesterday as part of a national strike as the four-hour protest passed without incident.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union took the action in a disagreement with the government over pensions and retirement ages and crews from the Swindon, Stratton and Westlea all walked out between midday and 4pm.
Of the firefighters scheduled to work during the afternoon, 120 were on duty and 128 were on strike across the county.
Wearing uniforms, they formed pickets outside all three stations before returning to duties afterwards.
The strike passed without any serious incident, with the only callout being to a small dishwasher fire in Oakhurst, although less than an hour after they returned to work a fire broke out in a care home in Bath Road.
There was also a single pump based in the town centre to cover for any emergencies.
Crew Manager Chris Pye, 31, who is based at the Drove Road Station, says it is with reluctance they have gone on strike.
“This is not something we want to do but we have been left with no choice,” he said.
“We accept that money is short and changes have to be made but the fire service has already had to take a lot.
“We are hoping the government will see this as a warning shot and carry on with the talks.”
As part of the government plans, firefighters will see their pension contributions increase by 50 percent. On top of this the proposed retirement will increase from 55 until 60.
Chris, a fireman of six years, said: “The increase in pension contribution will hit very hard.
“In recent years we have seen the pension contributions increase and there have been personnel reductions of ten per cent so it is time for the government to come to a compromise.”
The Fire Brigades’ Union say they are pleased with the turn-out for the strike and have not ruled out further action at a later date if a deal cannot be reached.
“I am pleased to see so many members of the union come out in support of the strike,” said Brent Thorley, Wiltshire brigade secretary of the FBU.
“We have had good support from the public nationally who I believe understand why we have had to take this action.
“We hope the government take the message and return to the negotiation table.
“No one wants to take action but if there is no movement by the government we will have to consider going on strike again.”
Senior Wiltshire fire officers say they are pleased with the management of the strike and that it passed without major incident.
Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “I am obviously very pleased that we have had a quiet afternoon across the county, and my thanks go to those firefighters who continued to work through the strike period and maintain such a good level of emergency response for our communities.
“We have done a great deal of planning for this industrial action and this has been very successful, with no issues during the four hours.”
Comments are closed on this article.