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Firefighters plan strike for bonfire period in pensions row
FIREFIGHTERS are to stage two strikes during the run-up to bonfire night because of a row over pensions.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich are among those nationwide who are due to walk out during industrial action on Friday, November 1 between 6.30pm-11pm and Monday, November 4 between 6am-8am.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) has called on the public to be vigilant during the two strikes, which will occur during one of the busiest periods in the emergency services’ calendar.
A spokesman for CFRS said: “We do have plans and procedures in place that will enable us to continue to protect the communities of Cheshire during strike periods.
“However, as we do have less fire engines available we would once again encourage everyone to take extra care during the strike.
“It is especially important to be extra vigilant on Friday night as this falls within the service’s bonfire period, which is traditionally a very busy time for fire crews.”
CFRS is urging people to only attend organised bonfire and firework displays. They are also advising groups to consider holding their bonfire and firework displays on Saturday or Sunday evening – when a greater number of fire engines will be available.
Strikes due to take place earlier in the month were cancelled after progress in talks between the Government and FBU.
But the FBU now says no guarantees have been made to protect jobs and pensions.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “The Westminster government has created this mess, but it is refusing to clear it up.
“It now recognises the problem, but it won’t provide the legal and financial guarantees firefighters need to ensure they have a job and an unreduced pension in the future.
“Firefighters face the sack towards the end of their career and the loss of their pension. That can’t be right.
“The employers promised to tackle the issue of firefighters facing the sack for failing fitness tests last week, only to say they can’t offer any guarantees this week. That is simply not the way to run a public service.
“The government is now making threats to withdraw some of the other concessions they have made this year. Their own Williams report shows most firefighters cannot work beyond 55.
“They are trying to bludgeon firefighters into an unworkable pension scheme. We are not prepared to be bullied.
“Firefighters don’t want to go on strike, but we are left with no option when the government and the employers refuse to deal with the problems of their own making."
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