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Firefighters strike over pensions

Fire stations across England were closed all weekend as firefighters went on strike in a bitter row with the Westminster government over pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) walked out on Friday evening and will stay out until 6pm tomorrow.

Fire brigades across England had contingency plans in place to deal with the action.

Despite bonfires and firework displays being held throughout the weekend, no serious incidents were reported.

The London brigade said stand-in crews dealt with a house fire in Dagenham and a blaze in a workshop in Neasden which took 90 minutes to bring under control.

The union said it had been told by the Scottish government that it will further improve its pension proposals allowing firefighters to retire from age 55 with a "much more acceptable" pension reduction.

Firefighters in Scotland are not involved in strike action this weekend due to an earlier improved proposal that had already guaranteed firefighters would not be sacked for getting older.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "While we welcome the further movement in Scotland we are also astounded that ministers in England would rather see firefighters on strike than negotiate properly with us. Look at what can be achieved when both sides want an end to this dispute.

"Everything we have agreed in Scotland is within the cost restrictions imposed by Westminster but even then they have simply said no.

"We are accused of being irresponsible but we cannot make a deal with a government that just doesn't want to negotiate."

Picket lines will be mounted outside fire stations again today.

Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt said: "It is regrettable that the Fire Brigades Union has announced this strike action which is unnecessary and the aim of which is unclear.

"The Government recognises the role firefighters play in keeping the public safe and has worked hard to give them one of the most generous pensions in the public sector. We are also consulting on changes to ensure that no firefighter aged 55 or over will face a risk of being left without a job or a good pension.

"Under the new scheme nearly three quarters of firefighters will see no change in their pension age in April 2015. A firefighter who earns £29,000 will still be able to retire after a full career aged 60 and get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension.

"Our thanks are with those who are working to keep the public safe over this period."


From Belfast Telegraph