The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced that it is finalising plans to strike in England and Wales to defend workers’ pensions.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack outlined the decision to strike in a letter sent to members on Friday.
He said the refusal of governments in England and Wales to rethink their pension proposals left the union with “no option but to call periods of strike action”.
Simon Hickman is an FBU rep at Agecroft Fire Station in Greater Manchester. He told Socialist Worker, “The firefighters I spoke to want sustained action. If we go out for eight days it’ll affect most members equally and make it difficult to cover.
“It’s the only way we’ll beat the strike breakers.”
The union has said Scotland won’t be included in any strike. Simon said that is “disappointing” because the pension attack is “a national issue”.
FBU members voted by 78 percent for strikes at the start of this month. They are fighting Tory plans to raise pension contributions and the retirement age.
The Tories want to make firefighters work until they are 60—and be able to sack them before then if they are no longer fit to work.
If a worker is forced out of the job at 55 because they are deemed unfit, they could lose around half of their pension.
The FBU could link up with other unions that plan to strike in the autumn, such as the CWU, NUT and NASUWT.
Simon said, “The union has always talked about combining strikes, and if we could link up with the post or teachers that would be fantastic. But if not, we’ll go out on our own.
“We need to fight the cuts. Ten fire stations are earmarked for closure in London. In Greater Manchester we’ve just been told we have to make £200 million savings.
“Workers are getting to the stage where we’re saying, enough is enough.”
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