Firefighters protest at MP's office
Firefighters staged a protest outside the constituency office of a Government minister today as they launched a fresh strike in a long-running dispute over pensions and retirement age.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union demonstrated in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where Fire Minister Brandon Lewis is the Tory MP.
Thousands of firefighters across England and Wales took industrial action in a continuing protest against controversial plans to change their pensions and retirement age.
FBU members have now taken strike action 14 times , accusing the Westminster Government of "driving through" proposals they warned could see firefighters losing 50% of their pensions for being forced to retire in their late 50s as a result of declining fitness.
Kev Game, secretary of the FBU in Norfolk, said: "Firefighters want to see a resolution to the pensions dispute and we have made our case to the minister time and time again. But Mr Lewis has been avoiding talks with our national officials over the last couple of weeks so Norfolk's firefighters thought we'd better take the talks straight to Mr Lewis, here on home turf.
"Unlike his counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the minister has refused to offer firefighters alternative proposals that could end this dispute - even though it's been revealed that the Westminster Government has been sitting on costed alternatives since March.
"We want the minister to understand the strength of feeling we have toward his unfair and unaffordable proposals which will completely change the terms firefighters signed up to years ago. We want him to stop wasting time and put the improved proposals on the table now."
The Government maintains that firefighters will still receive a decent pension despite the changes.
The strike lasted seven hours, with further action not ruled out.
Firefighters in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, agreed to work through the strike to tackle a large blaze at a scrapyard.
Crews were called to Shanley's scrapyard in Shail Lane at 9.39am - before the start of the planned 10am to 5pm strike - and brought the fire under control.