Strikes forecast as vote goes against firefighters

Chairman of Lincolnshire Fire Brigade Union Ben Selby at Grantham fire station. Photo: 0290A
Chairman of Lincolnshire Fire Brigade Union Ben Selby at Grantham fire station. Photo: 0290A
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More strikes by firefighters are likely says a local union man after the Government pressed ahead with plans to raise the retirement age.

Ben Selby, chairman of Lincolnshire Fire Brigade Union (FBU), says more strikes arepossible following a vote in Parliament this week in favour of raising the retirement age of firefighters to 60.

The FBU says firefighters who reach the current retirement age of 55 could end up losing their jobs if they fail a fitness test.

Firefighters want assurances from the Government that nobody will be sacked if they fail a fitness test and will be given alternative jobs.

Mr Selby said under the new rules anybody failing a fitness test at 55 would then stand to lose 30 per cent of their pension.

Mr Selby, who lives in Grantham and was a firefighter at the local station, was among thousands of firefighters who protested outside Parliament on Monday when the vote took place. He said: “The feeling down there was one of utter disgust.”

He added: “We will be taking strike action up until the day we are treated as equals with our colleagues under the devolved governments.”

Firefighters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have come to agreements in principle with central government.

Mr Selby said he wanted to make it clear to people that the firefighters propsoals did not cost more and therefore take money from taxpayers.

He said: “It sickens me when politicians say you must be fair to the taxpayer because we have always had a sustainable pension scheme. We are not doing this for financial gain.

“Pensions are the only issue we would be willing to take strike action over. And no firefighter goes out on strike without a heavy heart.

“The message from our firefighters is we must continue until we get a clear, fair pension scheme for all.”