Wiltshire's firefighters begin 24-hour strike

Firefighters at Trowbridge on the picket line today

Simon Routh-Jones, the region’s chief fire officer, says 999 calls will still be responded to during the 24-hour strike

First published in Latest News
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Firefighters were taking to the picket lines again today as their pension dispute with the Government shows no sign of ending.

The 24-hour action, which started at 9am, will see staff from Chippenham, Pewsey, Calne, Trowbridge, Melksham and Westbury stations take part in the national strike.

This is the latest industrial action by the Fire Brigades’ Union protesting against plans for them to pay higher pension contributions, work into their late 50s before retiring and face being sacked if their fitness declines as they get older.

Brent Thornley, the FBU’s south west secretary, said: “Every time we have returned from strikes we have met with the Government but negotiations don’t seem to go forward.

“We want to sort this out properly through proper discussions but it feels like the Government wants to challenge the union rather than work with it.

“Since the last strike, a few weeks ago, we have got nowhere and this is the reason we have decided to strike again as this is a critical period and we need to have proper discussions.

“As it stands I don’t see any resolution to the dispute.

“Thankfully, we’ve had good positive support from the public, which is important.

“It is nice to feel that they are behind us and I believe one of the reasons they are is because they face similar problems in their jobs.”

The union’s members also intend to strike for seven hours, to highlight the dispute, from 10am on Saturday, June 21.

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has contingency plans for both days of action.

“By walking out for 24 hours, which will be the longest strike action so far, the FBU is clearly out to cause the maximum disruption,” said Simon Routh-Jones, the region’s chief fire officer.

“As I have said before, the union’s dispute is with the Government, yet the impact of these strikes is entirely on individual services and the communities we are here to protect.

“As on previous occasions, we will be making every effort to provide the best possible emergency response for people in Wiltshire and Swindon, but we will be operating with reduced resources and this will have an effect.

“During the strike periods, we will still respond to 999 calls, but it may take us a little longer than usual to arrive and, with larger premises, we may send a smaller attendance than usual in the first instance.”

For more information about the fire service cover available during the strikes visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk

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