Firefighters’ strike plans suspended

FIREFIGHTERS across Hertfordshire have suspended plans for strike action over government plans to reform their pensions.

The Government has agreed to extended talks with the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) over proposals to increase the standard retirement age and force members’ monthly contributions up by up to �100 per month.

Hertfordshire Fire Brigade Union representative Tony Smith said firefighters “are going to get hit twice”, after changes to their pensions were made in April 2006.

In August this year, the FBU warned of national strike action this autumn, with firefighters across Comet country backing the move, but the union has now said no decision to strike will be taken until at least December.

Mr Smith said: “The Government has agreed to extended talks with the FBU, so we will not be taking strike action at the moment.

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“We are hopeful, in our talks, that we can sort something out with the Government, but strike action is still on the cards.”

Branch meetings across Hertfordshire have been held, with Letchworth GC and Baldock firefighters among those “100 per cent in favour of taking action”, he said.

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Mr Smith added: “It’s quite clear our members are ready to take industrial action, but hopefully we won’t have to. The Government seems to be taking us seriously.”

The proposals are aimed at helping to reduce the country’s financial defecit, he said, but added that the Government should instead be looking to tax the rich and “make all the big corporations pay their bills”.

He said the Government’s plan to increase the standard retirement age of firefighters is “a crazy idea” and “dangerous”.

If strike action is taken, a spokesman for the Herts Fire and Rescue Service has said that a set of contingency plans are in place to deal with a wide variety of risks to its business.

* What do you think? Are firefighters right to strike? Email or call the newsdesk on 01438 866200.

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