Tomorrow afternoon firefighters from across England and Wales will take industrial action against pensions.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announcement announced last week that they ‘intend to take industrial action on Wednesday 25th September between midday and 4pm’. Almost 80% of union members voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot that ended earlier this month, although union officials did leave the strike to the last possible moment to allow for the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
Government figures have shown that thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting older.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to government. Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions. Governments in Westminster and Cardiff have simply refused to see sense on these issues.
“It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.
“None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.”
The number of firefighters from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service who are expected to make a protest is expected to be high. This will mean a reduction in the resources that the fire and rescue service has at its disposal and, as a consequence, the Service will not be able to provide the same high level of response to fires and other emergencies that it normally would. The priority will be to respond to life critical incidents.
The Chief Fire Officer of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has urged the public to’take extra care’in terms of fire safety in the home and road safety during strike action planned by firefighters.
Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith said: “North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has arrangements in place to continue to provide a service during strike action” but warned that, “because of the circumstances, services may be limited.
“The Service’s business continuity arrangements will ensure a speedy and safe return to normal services on conclusion of any period of industrial action.”
“Unlike the dispute in 2002/3 support from the military in the form of Green Goddesses is no longer available to North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and our ability to provide a service to the public will be challenging.
“However, we will continue to respond to emergency calls by prioritising the deployment of the available resources at our disposal and focussing on the protection of life.”
Councillor Meirick Lloyd Davies, Chairman of North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Whilst the Fire and Rescue Authority understands the concerns of staff which have led to their decision to make a protest in this way, the Authority has a duty and an obligation to ensure that the provision of services to the public remains as unaffected as reasonably practicable.
“This is a dispute between the FBU and the Government in England and Wales over proposed changes to pension arrangements. These changes are affecting many people in a wide range of organisations across the public sector. However the Authority’s number one priority is to ensure public safety and a consistent public service.”
In order to help people to prepare for taking extra care in terms of fire safety and to help reduce the risk to communities and businesses, safety advice and guidance will be provided via the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service website and social network sites on Facebook and Twitter(#takeextracare), as well as through the local news.
The following advice has been issued by the Chief Fire Officer:
Prevention is best – pay extra attention to fire safety in the home
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm
- If a fire does start – get out, stay out and call 999
- Don’t be tempted to tackle a fire yourself.