Preparations for fire strike in Lancashire
7:00pm Sunday 1st September 2013 in News
LANCASHIRE firefighters are set to take strike action within the next month following the results of a national vote which revealed 78 per cent were in favour.
The 11,000 fighters, almost all of whom are members of the Fire Brigade Union, will take industrial action unless negotiations between FBU officials and the government are successful.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, Chris Kenny, said that he believed staff had not taken the decision lightly but the service had a significant number of staff who had given a commitment to maintain emergency cover in the event of action.
In total, 18,277 firefighters from across the country voted to strike over planned changes to their pensions from 2015, which would also see their pension age increase from 55 to 60.
Firefighters were worried that the changes could lead to employees being forced to retire on long term sick basis and have to forego their full pension entitlement due to a lack of less strenuous roles.
Steve Harman, FBU secretary for the region, said: “Since the government has refused to change its position we have no choice but to ballot for industrial action.
“They have asked ageing firefighters to fight fires on the front line.
“When they first announced the review, they promised redeployment of staff to more suitable areas but, following massive cuts to the service, these positions just don’t exist.
“The only result of these changes, if they go ahead, will be a negative impact on the service in the long run.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack is soon expected to attempt to meet with government ministers and fire service employers to negotiate to avoid industrial action.
Meanwhile MP for Burnley Gordon Birtwistle said: “I’m very sorry that they have taken this decision.
“I’ve not yet spoken to the Lancashire fire and rescue service but I am sure that they will not let people fight on the front line when they are not fit enough.”
Mr Kenny said: “I recognise that all staff have had a very difficult decision to make and I am sure that nobody has taken the decision lightly.
“I sincerely hope that Government and FBU will arrive at a negotiated settlement.
“We do have a significant number of our staff who have given a commitment to maintain emergency cover and as a result the public can be reassured that the service plan to maintain the majority of fire engines in Lancashire available during the dispute period.
“We would urge all people to be extra vigilant and be aware that for minor fires in particular there may be a longer wait for a fire engine.”
Comments are closed on this article.