11:40am Saturday 7th September 2013
FIREFIGHTERS in Worcestershire have voted in favour of going on strike over pension arrangements.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) across the county voted four to one to back industrial action over plans that could see them unable to collect their pensions until they reach 60.
Many have said they fear they would lose their contributions altogether if they were deemed unfit to work before they are 60.
At the moment staff are able to retire at 50 or 55, depending on their grade.
Worcestershire FBU secretary Steve Gould said the union had been in talks with the government over the plans for two years but felt they had made no progress. “Would you really want five 60-year-old firefighters turning up at your house if it was on fire?,” he said.
“That is my concern – it’s a public safety issue. Hopefully the government will come back to the table because none of us really want to go on strike.”
If the strikes go ahead it would be the first nationwide walkouts of firefighters in a decade.
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s head of operations Area Commander Jon Pryce described it as a “serious situation” but said the organisation had plans in place if the strike went ahead.
“If strike action takes place the Service’s available resources are likely to be significantly reduced, although plans are well advanced to maintain emergency fire cover across the two counties,” he said.
“This reduced fire cover is likely to provide limited coverage and will aim to prioritise the most urgent calls ahead of other responses. We will ensure we provide a basic level of fire cover across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.”
It is not yet known when any possible strike action will take place.
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