Firemen stage fresh walkout in pensions battle

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Firemen have gone on strike again over changes to their pensions and benefits.

Fire services across Derbyshire joined others nationwide in protesting against the Government’s changes to exisiting pension schemes.

The Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU), which organised the strike, claims that ageing firefighters will be forced to continue working, despite gruelling fitness requirements, until 60 or risk losing nearly 50 per cent of their pensions.

Picket lines were drawn at Chesterfield Community Fire Station as well as at Horns Bridge roundabout, where nearly a dozen firefighters were cheered and pipped for by passing motorists.

Richard Butcher, FBU Branch Secretary for Chesterfield Community Fire Station, claims that the strikes are necessary in order for the public to hear their grievances.

The full-time fireman told the Derbyshire Times: “The discontinuous action we’re taking is a demonstration of how angry we are about the way we are being treated by the Government.

“We’re not alone in this, other public services are being treated the same way, and we think it’s wholly unfair.

“The things they’re asking [the Government] we feel are unnacceptable.”

According to the union, most firefighters paid £230 per month in pensions contributions in 2006, but this will rise to £340 by 2014, the third annual increase in a row.

And Mr Butcher feels that despite continued negotiations, the Government’s current position makes a deal difficult.

He said: “The Government wants to make a few changes to the pension scheme and we, as a unit, fundementally disagree with it.

“They want us to work longer, they want us to pay more in and, ultimately, we’ll get less out of it.

“They want to change the rules, and that to us is unfair.”

The Government argues that the pension on offer is generous.

This strike is the fourth in less than two months. Members are set to ballot on further action in the coming months.