Firefighters launch new strikes
Firefighters in England and Wales launched a fresh wave of strikes today in a bitter row with the Government over pensions, with no sign of a breakthrough in the long running dispute.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union walked out for two hours at noon and will stop work again for an hour at 11 pm.
Strikes will be held for the same times over the next eight days.
Fire brigades again put contingency plans in place, including using contract staff. Fewer fire engines will be available during the action. The union has been campaigning for the past few years against controversial government plans to change pensions.
The FBU claims firefighters will have to work longer and receive lower pensions when they retire. The union accused the Government of "walking away" from talks earlier this week.
Andy Dark, FBU deputy general secretary, said: "There is a clear sense of anger from firefighters about how they are being treated by this government.
"These proposals are an attack on firefighters, their families and on the fire and rescue service itself.
"The union has always been prepared at any moment, at any time to meet with ministers to avoid strikes but despite making an evidence based case to them they are still refusing to listen."
A DCLG spokesman said: "There have been constructive talks, the Government put forward a better package on pensions and we were expecting to hear the FBU's views with a further meeting scheduled for Thursday (7th) following the executive meeting to make further progress.
"Rather than do that the FBU have inexplicably escalated strike action causing talks to fail. Let's be clear the only reason further meetings are no longer scheduled are the FBU's actions. The Government will continue to make progress on issues of concern to firefighters. The Fire Minister is currently undertaking a tour across the country to hear views of firefighters themselves."