Fire crews to strike in pension dispute

Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter
Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Firefighters will go on strike for a total of six-and-a-half hours in the days leading up to bonfire night.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced two days of industrial action, which will see members walk out tomorrow from 6.30pm to 11pm and on Monday between 6am and 8am.

Andy Vingoe, chairman of Suffolk’s FBU, said the dates had been carefully planned to minimise the risk to people planning fireworks displays on November 5.

“We took the decision to strike on these days as everyone expected the strike to be on Tuesday,” he said.

“Most displays will probably be on Saturday and hopefully we won’t be sacrificing any public safety and will get our message across.”

The walkout is taking place as the FBU continues a dispute with the Government over pension reforms, which would mean firefighters would not receive a full pension until they reach 60 years of age.

Andrew Hagger, who helps to organiser Big Night Out in Long Melford, said he did not believe the strike would affect the event.

“I am not concerned as the firefighters that will be there are part of retained crews and will not be on strike,” he said. “Keeping everyone safe is always a priority and this year is no different.”

Last month, 21 firefighters at Sudbury Fire Station joined the FBU strike action, with members in Long Melford, Clare and Hadleigh also taking part. A further strike, planned for October 19, was cancelled at the last minute.

“The pension reforms could leave firefighters with no job and no pension,” said Mr Vingoe. “Talks were going well but we are now back at square one.”

Mr Vingoe added that more strikes were a possibility.

“Discussions are still going on behind the scenes, but we will not cancel any more strikes without something concrete on the table,” he said.