Firefighters strike in defence of pensions

Over 30,000 firefighters in England and Wales have staged a four-hour strike in defence of their pension rights.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it was a "warning shot" to government over plans to make members work up to 60.  The FBU said 32,000 of its 41,000 members went on strike.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said the strike demonstrated his members' "anger and their determination".

"This strike was a last resort after the government refused to negotiate - and a warning shot that firefighters are serious about keeping a fair, safe and workable pensions scheme," he added.

"Firefighters across the country are reporting a fantastic response from the public, who seem to understand that the government's proposals on pensions are ludicrous.

"We haven't ruled out further industrial action, but let's hope common sense wins out, public safety is put first and the government comes back open to compromise."

The FBU says many firefighters will not be fit enough to work to the retirement age of 60, and says they could lose thousands of pounds a year if they retire early.

Wrack told BBC Radio 4 Today's programme the government's plans were unworkable as older firefighters were at risk of failing fitness tests. "It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s; the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered," he said.

 Solid support for the strike in Wandsworth, south London

Pickets in Wandsworth acknowledge the support of the public

3 October 2013

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