Luton firefighters to go on 24-hour strike


Firefighters across Luton and Bedfordshire will walk out for a first 24-hour strike over planned government reforms to pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union will picket during the 24-hour strike from 9am on Thursday, with another set for 10am-5pm on Saturday June 21.

A Beds Fire & Rescue spokesperson confirmed that firefighters from across the county would be put into place to cover the walk-out.

Area Commander Ian Evans, said: “Whilst this is a national dispute between the FBU and the Government, the impact will be felt locally.

“Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has well practiced plans to continue to deliver services during the periods of FBU strike action, and these will be put into place.

“However, as with any period of strike action, this will be a reduced service, compared to normal.

“We will prioritise any 999 calls we receive, so that we can respond to those with a potential threat to life.

“We will also need the support and help of the public to minimise the risk of fire and other emergencies.”

The walk-out comes five weeks after firefighters from the town lined the streets to picket over three days.

One station was closed with a sign stating it had been locked up due to “attempted pension theft”.

Between the upcoming strikes firefighters will not carry out any voluntary overtime — which is routinely needed by many fire and rescue services to maintain fire cover — or conduct training of strikebreakers between the beginning of the first strike and 9am on Sunday 22 June.

The two strikes will be the thirteenth and fourteenth over pensions– the first was on September 24 2013.

The walk-out is part of a three-year feud betweenthe FBU and government, which plans to up pension contributions and the retirement age of firefighters.

FBU says the move would see firefighters working into their late 50s and leave them facing dismissal if their fitness falls below required levels.

Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The minister (Brandon Lewis) has decided to bury his head in the sand, but he must accept that firefighters simply will not give up fighting for their futures — and our fire and rescue service.

“Concerns over these unworkable proposals remain as valid and grave as ever, and the government has ignored all the evidence including it’s own reports.

“It is as ever a difficult decision for us to take, but the only way for us to resolve this unnecessary and costly dispute is for the government to start listening to reason.”