Cornwall Firefighters hope for a conclusion to pension dispute
Cornwall firefighters are hoping for a conclusion to on-going dispute over pensions after taking part in strikes over the weekend.
Firefighters across Cornwall took industrial action last night and on Friday night as part of an on-going national dispute over pensions.
The strike passed quietly with no fires in Cornwall from 6pm until 10pm last night and one fire on Friday.
In recent months firefighters have held a series of strikes in protest against plans that would see an increase in pension contributions and the retirement age raised from 55 to 60.
The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) representative at Penzance Fire Station, Andy Bales, said: “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.
“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.”
Most firefighters take home approximately £1,650 a month and pay £320 or more a month into their pensions, according to the FBU.
From April 2014 this will rise for the third year in a row to more than £340 a month, which is £4,000 a year, according to the FBU.
The FBU spokesman at St Austell Fire Station, Nick Jones, said: “I hope we can come to a positive outcome with the government. Only time will tell.”
Many firefighters also face a fourth consecutive rise of 2.2 per cent expected in 2015, the union said.
As a result, it claimed they will not receive the pension they were promised despite paying into their scheme for many years.
The FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “It’s now been almost two months since the government has been willing to meet 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 governments 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.
“We’ll keep on fighting until the government sees sense and comes back to negotiations.”