FIREFIGHTERS walked out of stations across Bolton as part of a three-day consecutive strike as the row over pension reforms intensifies.
Crews from Bolton, Bolton North, Horwich and Farnworth stations went on strike for five hours on Friday, 12 hours on Saturday and another five hours on Sunday.
This strike is the fifth time industrial action has taken place over the pensions reforms, which will see firefighters forced to pay higher contributions towards their pensions and make them work for longer.
Watch manager at Bolton station Ian Reed accused the government of using ‘bullying tactics’ to take away the pension pots he and his colleagues had been paying into for years.
He said: “I’m sick and tired of the big wigs down in London dictating to us when they don’t even know what we do.
“How long do MPs have to work before they can collect their full pension?
“We pick people off the floor when they are at their lowest point, but I don’t think MPs know what we do day in day out.
“The ambulance, the police, the fire service — the public service are the backbone of this country. And it’s our families who suffer when we’re helping members of the public.
“My father went on strike for nine weeks in 1977, and it almost broke my family — and that was for the pension deal we have at the moment.
“I’m not going to disgrace my father’s name by taking this.
“They are going to have a fight on their hands. There’s no way we are taking this lying down.”
The government’s pension proposals also says firefighters could be sacked if their fitness declines as they get older, and anyone who wants to retire at 55 faces losing almost 50 per cent of their pension.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the future of the fire service was at stake.
He added: “Just like the current bout of industrial action, future strikes could be avoided simply by the government honouring current pension promises and releasing proposals for the future that reflect the discussions we've held over the last three years and take account of the evidence we have presented about our occupation.”
The Department of Communities and Local Government says the deal being offered to firefighters is “one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector”.