UK & World News
Firefighters Vote For Strike Over Pensions
Firefighters have voted by almost four to one in favour of a strike in a row overpensions, the Fire Brigades Union has said.
Members of the union backed industrial action by 18,277 votes to 5,166, a majority of 78%.
It said planned changes to pensions were "unaffordable and unworkable" and would mean an increase in members' contributions.
The FBU also said the proposals would make it more likely for firefighters to be dismissed without a proper pension if they were unable to maintain fitness standards as they approach the retirement age of 60.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Expecting large numbers of 60-year-olds to fight fires and rescue families is dangerous to the public and to firefighters.
"The Government is simply ignoring the evidence about the physical demands of firefighting and has been unable to answer our concerns during two years of negotiations.
"None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety. We hope common sense prevails, and the Government returns to the negotiating table."
Strike action must be taken within 28 days of the ballot taking place.
The union did not set strike dates and said it will seek further talks with Government ministers and fire service employers in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
The FBU said it held the ballot after almost two years of negotiations, adding that it faced a July 12 deadline for the proposals to be accepted, or face imposition.
Mr Wrack said: "We cannot expect large numbers of firefighters in their late 50s to fight fires and rescue families without creating danger to the public and firefighters.
"We have repeatedly raised safety concerns and provided strong evidence to back it up but the Government just isn't listening.
"This result is a clear indication of the anger felt by firefighters. It's still not too late for common sense to prevail if the Government are willing to return to the negotiating table. None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety."
The union said the Government's own figures have shown that thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting older.