Wiltshire makes plans to cope in event of firefighters' strike (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Wiltshire makes plans to cope in event of firefighters' strike
Contingency plans are being drawn up for Wiltshire to cope if the county's firefighters go on srike.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announced yesterday that 78 per cent of its members in England, Wales and Scotland voted for industrial action following a dispute with the government over pension changes.
No date for a potential strike has been set but any action would need to take place within 28 days of the ballot.
Wiltshire Councillor Graham Payne, the chairman of the Wiltshire and Swindon Combined Fire Authority, said: “The union has not made a decision on any date as of yet but our chief fire officer, Simon Routh-Jones, will make sure we are prepared for any eventuality as the public’s safety is our main concern.”
In preparation for a strike, the first since 2002, Cleveland Fire Brigade, which covers Teeside, has been training volunteers who could potentially tackle fires because the Army are no longer legally bound to step-in and use the mothballed Green Goddess fire trucks, like they have during previous strikes.
This is now the responsibility of individual fire authorities although it is believed Wiltshire and Swindon Combined Fire Authority is not looking to enlist volunteers as it does not want to put their safety art risk.
The FBU’s south west branch hopes the government will negotiate so that the country-wide strikes can be averted.
From 2015, the government plans to make firefighters work until they are 60 to get their full pensions rather than 55 as well as making them pay more money into a pension scheme.
Brent Thorley, FBU’s Wiltshire Brigade secretary, said: “We have spent two years engaging with the government on this but they’ve just decided to ignore what has been said and so it came to this and we had to fight back.
“We hope that the government will see this as a show of strength from us and get around the table to talk things through.
"The government’s plans offer a danger to the public’s safety and we’ll also see more firefighters being asked to leave without their pensions because they aren’t fit enough, which isn’t right.”
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