Firefighters to strike again in pension dispute

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Firefighters across the area will go on strike for the second time in the space of a month this weekend as a dispute over pensions continues.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced that many of its members will be unavailable for work between 6.30pm and 11.30pm on Saturday.

During a previous four-hour strike last month, all 21 retained firefighters at Sudbury station chose to take action. Union members in Long Melford, Clare and Hadleigh also walked out.

Andy Vingoe, chairman of Suffolk’s FBU, said he expected similar protests this time around.

“I imagine that it will be the same again,” he said.

“Firefighters do not want to have to do this but the pensions being proposed are not fit for purpose.”

The industrial action stems from a row between the FBU and the Government over pension reforms.

New proposals mean that firefighters would not receive their full pension until they reach the age of 60, but FBU officials argue that people in their late 50s would be too old to carry out lifesaving work.

“It is not feasible for firefighters to go on until they are 60 years old,” said Mr Vingoe.

“We want the impact of what is being planned to be reduced. There was some reaction after the last strike, but we still need reasonable discussions to take place.”

Part-time and volunteer firefighters, along with non-unionised crews, will provide cover during the five-hour strike.

Mark Hardingham, Suffolk’s chief fire officer, said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is currently operating as normal and we will again implement our contingency plans during this second period of strike action.

“Our focus remains strongly on protecting the people of Suffolk and those who visit our county.”

Mr Hardingham said he wanted people to remain vigilant and take extra care to avoid fires breaking out.

Further strikes have not been ruled out by the FBU. “It is a case of wait and see,” said Mr Vingoe.