Suffolk: Fire Brigades Union announces dates of next strike in row over controversial pension plan

Scenes from last month's fire strikes. Photo: Bill Smith

Scenes from last month's fire strikes. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Firefighters in Suffolk will strike next week as a national row over pensions intensifies.

Fire Brigades Union officials have not ruled out further strikes as they announced firefighters will down their tools between 6.30pm and 11.30pm on Saturday, October 19.

The strike revolves around proposals from the government to release full pensions to firefighters when they reach the age of 60, but a recent review found more than half of firefighters over the age of 50 could no longer meet fitness standards.

Andy Vingoe, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the FBU, said: “All we are after at the moment is to get back to the negotiating table and talk about a pension that is fit for purpose.”

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters simply cannot be expected to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s and into their 60s, and should not pay far worse ratios employer-employee contributions than those in the public or private sector.

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“We hope this second strike will mean both governments will be willing to discuss the full range of concerns that firefighters and the general public have expressed.”

Suffolk County Council’s chief fire officer Mark Hardingham said; “Whilst we are disappointed that a further strike has been announced for next Saturday evening, we are confident that we have robust plans in place to provide a reduced level of cover for the five hour strike period.

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“This is an issue between the government and the national FBU over the arrangements for national firefighter pension schemes and I continue to hope that a settlement is reached as quickly as possible.”

The latest strike follows a walk-out by firefighters for four hours on September 25.

While firefighters in Suffolk will not be answering calls on October 19, there are arrangements in place should an emergency, where life is in danger, takes place.

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