Firefighters in Banbury are joining thousands of others across England and Wales as they take further strike action over its ongoing dispute with the Government over pensions.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out between 6.30pm and 11pm tonight (Friday) and from 6am to 8am on Monday, and follows on from the original walk-out on September 25.
Richard Hughes, branch secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in Banbury, said: “The FBU has called more strikes because the government is unwilling and unable to deal with the mess it has created by attacking our pensions. They are creating an unworkable, unaffordable, unsustainable and unfair pension scheme which does not take account of the job firefighters carry out.
“FBU negotiators have been available to meet ministers and employers’ representatives at any time. The government needs to clear up the mess it has created. We have some straightforward proposals to resolve the key issues, but they need to listen and then take practical steps to tackle the problems. The ball is in their court.”
The FBU postponed the strike planned for October 19 to allow negotiators to explore the possibility of a real guarantee around the ‘no job, no pension’ issue. The union has also confirmed contingency plans are in place to deal with emergency calls during the strike.
Government research last year showed many firefighters were thinking of opting out of the pension scheme because of contribution increases, and about 25 per cent of new firefighters have not joined. Firefighters currently pay about 11 per cent of their salary in contributions, making them one of the highest in the public sector. By 2014, the majority will be paying 14.2 per cent.
Mr Hughes said: “Firefighting is an uniquely demanding job. It is physically arduous and firefighters have to be able to wear breathing apparatus and go into burning buildings throughout our careers to the end. If a firefighter has to retire earlier than 60 our pension is substantially reduced. Firefighters are simply being priced out of their schemes.”