Greater Manchester Fire Service strike: Union plans three days of industrial action as pensions deal fails

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are set to join firefighters across England and Wales in a three-day strike next month, the Fire Brigades Union has announced.

Firefighters in England and Wales will take part in industrial action over pensions on Friday , May 2, between noon and 5pm, Saturday, May 3, between 2pm and 2am and Sunday, May 4 between 10am and 3pm.

There will also be a ban on voluntary overtime across England and Wales from 3pm on Sunday 4 May until noon on Friday, 9 May,

A ban on voluntary overtime will also take place in Scotland between noon on Friday, May 2 and noon on Friday, May 9.

Negotiations between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Department for Communities and Local Government have been taking place for three years.

The union and government have undertaken work examining financial, technical and legal issues since the last strike in January.

After a union executive council meeting earlier this month, the union wrote to the minister saying that if they hadn’t received any proposals by April 24, they would conclude that the government was unwilling or unable to offer any improvement.

Following a meeting today, the union’s executive council unanimously decided to take further industrial action.

Matt Wrack, the FBU general secretary, said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, the government is still burying its head in the sand.

“Several members of government were only too keen to praise firefighters during the winter floods, but their words amount to nothing when they simultaneously ignore issues that threaten the future of firefighters and their families. 

“Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute through negotiation, and are ready to meet to consider a workable proposal as soon as possible.”

The FBU has recently held talks with ACAS, the organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes, where union officials outlined their concerns and frustration with the lack of any progress.

The Westminster fire minister assured firefighters during negotiations that he would seek to address the threat of firefighters being sacked merely for getting older, there has been no change in the government’s position.

While negotiations were continuing, the government imposed a third annual increase in firefighters’ pension contributions, and issued proposals for a fourth year increase for many.

The increase took the percentage to just over 14.% for most firefighters, one of the highest in the public or private sector.

Image courtesy of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, with thanks.

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