Socialist Worker

Firefighters call their longest strike yet in fight to defend pensions

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2406

Firefighters on strike last year

Firefighters on strike last year


Firefighters in England and Wales have announced two further strikes in their long running dispute to defend their pensions.

The FBU union members are set to walk out for 24 hours on the Thursday of next week and again for seven hours on Saturday 21 June.

The one day strike is due to be the longest so far which has already seen 12 separate strikes over a three year period.

The union has been locked in talks with the government since the last strike at the beginning of May.

“The government are offering us absolutely nothing, and we are not going down without a fight,” Simon Hickman, FBU rep at Agecroft station in Greater Manchester told Socialist Worker. “We needed to step up the action considerably.”

Tory fire minister Brandon Lewis is leading an assault on firefighters’ pensions. Fire bosses want to make firefighters work longer—up from 55 to 60.

And if workers fail to remain the levels of fitness the job demands, they will be sacked under capability assessments.

The London and North West FBU regions have been behind the push for escalating their fightback.

Firefighters are also arguing for further action to co-ordinate with potentially 1.5 million other workers on 10 July.

“Co-ordinating with other workers is a question that’s constantly raised by members when we’re striking,” said Simon.

“We have to generalise—the government are attacking workers across the board. It’s incredibly important that firefighters take the opportunity to hit the Tories hard.”

The campaign of strikes so far has not involved firefighters in Scotland after the union said they have received an improved pension offer from the government.

But many firefighters there are also getting restless with the lack of action.

John, a firefighter in Edinburgh told Socialist Worker, “I’ve got younger members coming up to me who are concerned with their future.

“Although we have a devolved government, the attacks on pensions are happening nationally under the Tories and so we need to strike together.”


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.