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Firefighters vote to strike over Government pension reform
4:36pm Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS have voted for industrial action over their pensions which could see Green Goddesses on the streets of Halesowen, Dudley and Stourbridge.
The Fire Brigade Union balloted members over the Government’s proposed changes to the pension scheme and retirement ages and 78 per cent voted to strike.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We cannot expect large numbers of firefighters in their late-50s to fight fires and rescue families without creating danger to the public and firefighters.
“We have repeatedly raised safety concerns and provided strong evidence to back it up but the government just isn’t listening.
“This result is a clear indication of the anger felt by firefighters.”
He added: “It’s still not too late for common sense to prevail if the Government are willing to return to the negotiating table.”
“None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.”
West Midlands Fire Service have responded to the ballot result and are making contingency plans if the strike goes ahead.
Area Commander Paul Burnham, head of emergency response, said: “We’re aware of the ballot result, but dates for industrial action have yet to be announced. Clearly, we hope that this national dispute can still be resolved.
“In the meantime, the detailed contingency planning we have been doing for weeks will continue. We’re aiming to provide the maximum level of public protection we can, using staff who are not involved in the action.
He added: “The public can make a huge contribution to their own safety. Using basic common sense at home, on the roads and at work can make the difference between needing our help or not.”
Councillor John Edwards, chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, has urged the Government and FBU to get round the table and find a settlement to the dispute.
He said: “We have no local control over this issue, although I understand the strength of feeling amongst our firefighters over the changes to their pension arrangements.
“This must be sorted out as a matter of urgency, given the potential impact on public safety.”
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