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Firefighters in Stourbridge strike in battle over pensions
2:42pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS across Stourbridge and Dudley borough went on strike today (Wednesday) in their battle with the Government over pensions.
The Fire Brigades Union called the strike from 12pm until 4pm across the country and staff at local stations walked out.
Speaking outside Stourbridge striking fire station watch commander Brian Morris said: “Firefighters never like going out on strike but the Government have totally moved the goalposts on the deal we signed up for.
“When I signed up 25 years ago I did so in good faith and now they are altering the contracts and pensions.
“There is also a safety issue as well because there are less and less fire engines on duty as they are being replaced by emergency response vehicles which are just not the same.”
Stourbridge MP Margot James backed the Government in the dispute.
She said: “I’m really sorry that things have come to a strike and I appreciate that everything is being done by fire fighters during the strike to keep the public safe but I do think the Government is right in trying to be fair to everyone in the public sector concerning the reform of pensions.
“I do not think any group should have a special deal in the public sector and I do not think that this action will result in a different offer from the Government and neither should it.”
She added: “The divide between those on public sector and private sector pensions in this country now is really unjust.”
Deputy leader of Dudley Council, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stourbridge and Lye Councillor Pete Lowe visited the picket line at Stourbridge fire station.
He said: “I am fully supporting our firefighters today in their fight for a decent pension and I want it known that I support public sector workers who are having their pensions cut in this way.
“Firefighters signed up for their pensions and now the Government, like with other public sector workers, are taking their pensions away.”
West Midlands Fire Service put contingency plans into place due to the strike which included help from the Army.
Area Commander Paul Burnham, head of emergency response for WMFS, said: “We’ll be providing all the protection we can with the staff we have available during the strike - but this will be a reduced service. We are also asking people to take extra care during the four hours, whether they’re at home or out and about. Vigilance and common sense can make the difference between needing to call 999 or not.”
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