Firefighters in Northamptonshire to go on strike for 24 hours

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members from Wellingborough station on strike in November last year
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members from Wellingborough station on strike in November last year

Northamptonshire firefighters will strike again later this month in a dispute with the Government over pensions and the retirement age.

A 24-hour strike – the longest yet in the Fire Brigades Union’s three-year campaign – will take place from 9am on Thursday, June 12, with another set for 10am to 5pm on Saturday, June 21.

In addition between the two strikes firefighters will not carry out any voluntary overtime – which is routinely needed by many fire and rescue services to maintain fire cover – or conduct training of strikebreakers between the beginning of the first strike and 9am on Sunday, June 22.

Sheldon Fenning, brigade secretary for the Northamptonshire branch of the FBU, said: “We believe 60 is too old for a firefighter to retire. We have also got no cast-iron guarantee about withdrawing pensions.

“I imagine this will be a lengthy dispute.”

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, added: “The minister has decided to bury his head in the sand, but he must accept that firefighters simply will not give up fighting for their futures – and our fire and rescue service.

“Concerns over these unworkable proposals remain as valid and grave as ever, and the Government has ignored all the evidence including its own reports.

“It is as ever a difficult decision for us to take, but the only way for us to resolve this unnecessary and costly dispute is for the government to start listening to reason.”

The decision to strike was made at a meeting of the FBU’s executive council yesterday (Wednesday, June 4). It followed a meeting on Tuesday between FBU officials and the fire minister Brandon Lewis.

The FBU says firefighters and the public are being kept in the dark by the Government.

The FBU says increasing numbers of members are considering leaving the pension scheme as a result of its decreasing affordability, posing difficult questions over its sustainability.

Under the Government’s proposals, firefighters who are forced to retire before the age of 60 as a result of ageing will have half of their pension taken away.

Northamptonshire County Council has said its Fire and Rescue Service is working in partnership with neighbouring authorities and other emergency services to ensure it has the right resources in place.

It added it was confident it could provide an emergency response service to the county residents during the strikes.

The two strikes will be the thirteenth and fourteenth over pensions. The first was in September last year.