Unions say "still time" to resolve firefighters strike
8:00am Sunday 22nd September 2013 in News
A FIREFIGHTERS union boss has said there was still time for the government to avoid next week's national strike.
Gary Keary, the Bolton branch secretary of the Greater Manchester Fire Brigade's Union (FBU), was speaking after the announcement of Wednesday's four hour stoppage, from noon to 4pm.
Mr Keary said: "At a national level all lines of communication are still open in an effort to prevent the strike. My members are reluctant to take this action but they find themselves with no other option."
A ballot of Fire Brigade Union (FBU), earlier this month showed eight in every 10 firefighters were in favour of taking action should the government fail to deal with issues around pensions and frontline staff being expected to work up to 60 years of age.
Mr Keary said during next week's planned wlak-out firefighters would stage pickets at station in Bolton, Horwich and Farnworth, where his members would hand out leaflets to the public and ask them to sign a petition to support their cause.
He added: "The last thing any firefighter wants to do to withdraw labour but we have been backed into a situation where we have no choice.
"The message we are keen to get out there is that this dispute is not just about pensions, part of it is about protecting the fire service for future generation and one in which it would be ludicrous to expect a firefighter of 60 years of age to regularly climb a ladder."
And Bolton trade unions have announced they back the firefighters’ strike.
Martin McMulkin, secretary of Bolton Trades Union Council said: “We will be there at Central Fire Station at noon on Wednesday with trade union banners to show our solidarity. Other trade unionists and members of the public are welcome to come along and join us.
“The current attacks on the firefighters and their pensions is part and parcel of the austerity agenda that we are seeing at the present time. I firmly believe that workers have little choice but to fight back and say enough is enough.”
Andrea Egan, Assistant Secretary for Bolton Unison said: “As a public service trade union we back the firefighters in their strike action 100 per cent.
“The firefighters have backed us in the past. I believe that we can defeat governments cuts to jobs, services and conditions but we need to build the principle of solidarity between workers and trade unions.”
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has said the "decision by the FBU to take strike action is entirely unnecessary and avoidable".
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