Herts firefighters staging strike action

Fire crews attended a crash on Gunnels Wood Road in Stevenage yesterday afternoon

Fire crews attended a crash on Gunnels Wood Road in Stevenage yesterday afternoon - Credit: Archant

Firefighters are staging a 24-hour strike from 9am today as part of their latest pension protests – the longest station walkout in the last three years.

Another strike will take place from 10am to 5pm next Saturday, June 21, after the Government confirmed it would implement a new scheme without further negotiations.

Crews will also not carry out any voluntary overtime or conduct training of strikebreakers between the beginning of the first strike and 9am on Saturday, June 22.

The decision to strike was made at an FBU executive council meeting last week after Fire Brigade Union officials met with Fire Minister Brandon Lewis in the hope discussions could continue.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “The minister has decided to bury his head in the sand, but he must accept that firefighters simply will not give up fighting for their futures — and our fire and rescue service.

“Concerns over these unworkable proposals remain as valid and grave as ever, and the government has ignored all the evidence including its own reports.

“It is as ever a difficult decision for us to take, but the only way for us to resolve this unnecessary and costly dispute is for the government to start listening to reason.”

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The two strikes are the thirteenth and fourteenth over pensions.

Richard Thake, cabinet member for community safety at Herts County Council, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Fire Brigades Union has announced more strikes. It’s hard to see how this is going to help resolve their dispute with the government.

“This repeated strike action in a key public service is ill-conceived and the safety of the people of Hertfordshire should not be used as a bargaining tool.”

Roy Wilsher, director of community protection and chief fire officer, said fire crews would be responding as quickly as possible to serious incidents but their ability to respond would be reduced because of fewer resources.

He added: “In the event of a fire you should still get out, stay out, and call 999 – you will get an emergency response.”