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Devon and Cornwall firefighters prepared to carry on strike

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 15, 2013

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Westcountry fire fighters say they are prepared to continue with their long running dispute which this weekend saw two four hour strikes.

Crews walked out on Friday between 6pm and 10pm and during the same hours the following night as part of the industrial action mounted over pay and pensions.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) representative at Penzance Fire Station, Andy Bales, said they were behind their union.

“As far as we are concerned, we hope this can be sorted out because none of us want to be on strike and we enjoy the job we do,” he said. “Because we are part of the FBU we will all be sticking by the decisions the union makes.

“I am unsure what those decisions are going to be and I am unsure if there will be more strikes or not.

“My hope and the hope of everyone is that the FBU and the government can make a decision about what will happen.”

The strike passed quietly with no fires in Cornwall from 6pm until 10pm last night and one fire on Friday, a chimney fire near Marazion at 6.30pm.

In Devon and Somerset meanwhile there were no call-outs on Saturday night and on Friday just three calls; a fire in the open in Plymouth, a vehicle fire attended by Taunton and Bridgwater crews and a chimney fire in Crewkerne.

Bosses of the fire and rescue services had issued appeals for people to be mindful of the strike and only dial 999 when necessary.

A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue said: “ The service would like to thank the public for not making unnecessary 999 calls during this time.”

FBU members have gone on strike four times in recent months in protest against changes to pensions and their retirement age.

The union argues that older firefighters face losing their jobs if they fail fitness tests as part of changes to the pension age from 55 to 60.

The general secretary, Matt Wrack, said he could not rule out strikes next year.

“It’s now been almost two months since the government has been willing to meet us for negotiations despite several invitations from us.

“Until they do, and until they start to actually resolve the dispute, we’ll keep up the pressure for the sake of public safety and our members’ pensions.

“In a week when the full details of a £7,600 pay rise for MPs – which will also increase their pensions – emerged, firefighters’ anger at the government’s unworkable, unaffordable and unfair proposals will be even greater.

“No firefighter wants to strike, but we cannot allow the government’s ludicrous proposals, and outright hypocrisy, to stand.”

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