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Firefighters strike over pensions row
Firefighters across the district joined a national strike today in a bitter row over pension changes proposed by the Government.
All members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in West Yorkshire, which makes up 90 per cent of the region’s workforce, were walking out in what they called a last resort following two years of discussions.
Bradford Divisional Secretary of the FBU Lee Indriks, who works at Fairweather Green station, said the changes would mean firefighters paying more into their pensions, receiving a lower pension contribution from the brigade and working for longer.
Currently, firefighters pay 13 per cent to the fund – £300 every four weeks – and the Government-set contribution is around 22 per cent. Under the proposals, which would come into effect in 2016, firefighters would pay 14 per cent, the Government contribution would be the same and the retirement age would jump from 50 to 60.
But the Government says the changes are fair.
Fire minister Brandon Lewis said: “The Government has listened to union concerns – firefighters will still get one of the most generous pension schemes in the public sector.
“A firefighter who earns £29,000, and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a £19,000-a-year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension. An equivalent private sector pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much.”
Mr Indriks was on the picket-line outside his station during the strike.
“The support from the public passing by and people meeting up has been fantastic,” he said.
“This initial four-hour action is a warning shot to the Government and I’m sure that necessary action will increase if they’re still failing to talk and offer a more realistic proposal.”
Mr Indriks said making firefighters work until they were 60 was “ludicrous” and a threat to the safety of the public and firefighters.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service thanked members of the public for taking extra care, to safeguard themselves, their family and their communities during the industrial action undertaken.
During the four hours of strike action, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 12 incidents compared to nine incidents which occurred during the same time in 2012.
A total of 26 fire engines were in operation during industrial action.