Firefighters strike over pension plans

Firefighters strike, Daventry.
Firefighters strike, Daventry.

Daventry’s fire station closed yesterday afternoon as part of a nationwide strike by the Fire Brigade Union.

The team at the town’s Staverton road station walked out at noon over proposals from the Government to change their pension and working conditions. The area’s other stations are manned by retained firefighters who often have other jobs.

Colin Wells, health and safety co-ordinator for the FBU in Northamptonshire, told the Daventry Express: “The reason behind the industrial action is that the Government is attacking the pension scheme that firefighters have signed up to and pay 13.2 per cent into. They want to increase firefighters’ contributions.

“They also want to make firefighters work until they are 60 in operational roles. While they say they could be redeployed to non-frontline roles, those jobs don’t exist as they have either been taken by civilians or privatised.

“Those firefighters who stay on until they are 60 will be expected to meet the same fitness requirement as those much younger going through training.

“If they don’t meet those requirements they can be fired and they don’t have access to their pension until they are at the national retirement age, which is 67 at the moment.

“At the moment a firefighter can retire on their pension after 30 years of public service and putting their life on the line for others, so the earliest would be around the age of 50.

“It’s not safe for the public, or for firefighters, to have people aged 60 going into the type of situations we have to face.

“We’re not happy that we’ve had to go on strike. The county’s chief fire officer has assured us he has the resources in place to maintain safety.

“But if people think we’re putting safety at risk, imagine the risk to safety when many firefighters are in their 50s.”