HIGH profile talks took place yesterday between leaders of the Fire Brigades Union and Swindon firefighters about the ongoing disagreement with the Government over pensions.
The General Secretary of the union, Matt Wrack, visited Swindon to inform members that talks had been arranged with the Government and were due to take place.
The Government is looking to raise the pension contribution of firefighters across the country as well as increase the retirement age from 55 to 60.
A number of strikes have been held already in recent months, most notably over Christmas and New Year but hopes are now rising that an agreement can be reached.
Brent Thorley, the Brigade Secretary for the South West, said there was a more positive feeling among members following several months of no movement.
He said: “Matt came to Swindon to talk to members to give a rallying call and give them extra information.
“We have not announced any dates for a while because three dates have been scheduled over the end of January and the start of February.
“It’s definitely encouraging because for a long time it appears as though nothing was happening. We had to fight for it and the Government gave us no choice but it’s positive something has happened because at one point they were not shifting from their position.
“The important thing now is that the talks are meaningful. We will have to see how the talks go and then decide from there where to go.”
Matt, the General Secretary of the union, said that despite the lack of industrial action it did not mean firefighters had abandoned their position.
“Although there has been a break in industrial action to allow for more talks, firefighters across the country remain angry at proposals that could see them losing half their pensions for being unable to work until 60 years old,” he said. “Contributions are scheduled to go up again this year – with further increases being proposed for 2015, meaning firefighters will soon pay £4,000 a year for their pensions.
“Firefighters in the south west were among those who helped keep the public safe during the devastating floods over the last month and their input into our campaign is vital to our ability to protect their pensions.”