Hertfordshire firefighters plan strike action

FIREFIGHTERS across Hertfordshire are planning strike action later this year over government plans to reform their pensions.

There is anger over proposals to increase the standard retirement age and force up members’ monthly contributions by up to �100 per month.

If the plans are not dropped, national strike action is likely in the autumn, with firefighters across Comet country backing the move.

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

He said union branch meetings are currently being organised across the county, with an early visit to the Letchworth and Baldock station proving “100 per cent are in favour of taking action”.

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Mr Smith continued: “Firefighters are very angry.

“What’s making firefighters most angry is it’s quite clear the money the Government wants to save is not actually to manage the firefighters’ pension pot. It’s to put back into the treasury.

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“It’s another cut to sort out the deficit.

“It’s about time this government got a grip and looked after the people who really count.

“They should tax the rich and make all the big corporations pay their bills.”

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

“For firefighters, it’s very hard on the body and the mind,” he said.

“You just can’t do 35 or 40 years of this.”

He concluded: “This world’s just not about people anymore. It’s all about money.”

A formal ballot on strike action over pensions has yet to be taken by the union, but a spokesman for the Herts Fire and Rescue Service said a set of contingency plans are in place to deal with a wide variety of risks to its business.

“Further consultation regarding all public sector pensions is planned in the coming months,” he added.

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

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