Wimbledon firefighters join strike action over pensions
Firefighters staged a mass walk out today over changes which could force them to work until 60.
It is the first time in 11 years that the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have staged industrial action leaving just 27 fire engines on standby across London from 12pm and 4pm.
The FBU has said the changes to their pension scheme will mean their members will have to work longer, pay more into their pensions and receive less when they retire.
Wimbledon's firefighters were on the picket line this afternoon along with dozens of other stations across London.
Alan Kilroy, the FBU's representative at Wimbedon fire station, said it was "unfair" for the government to expect fire fighters to work until they are 60.
He said: "What’s changed the landscape is that they have brought in a competency clause into the pension.
"If you are unable to pass the fitness test at 60 your pension will be deferred until your 67.
"You will be sacked.
"The agreement was that they would provide other jobs for you if you couldn’t make it to 60.
"But they have changed that now and research recently carried out by the Fire Brigades Unions found there were only 25 of those jobs in the country.
"You won’t be retired early.
"You won’t get your pension till 67.
"To us that seems unfair."
Mr Kilroy said that in the past there were plenty of back office jobs for ex firefighters, but that the majority of fire safety roles had now been privatised.
Currently firefighters pay a portion of their salaries into a pension scheme which was set at 11 per cent but has since risen to 13 per cent.
Mr Kilroy added: "We are concerned that it will increase again.
"There’s no cap on the limit.
"The more people that pull out of the pension fund the more unsustainable it becomes.
"We are trying to get the government back to the discussion tables.
"All we can hope for is some type of negotiation on this competency clause.
"What we would like is for the government to say we are going to be reasonable with this competency clause.
"If there are no jobs out there would you like to get a reduced pension early.
"That’s acceptable, but it’s not acceptable to get no pension at all because you cannot meet this competency test."
The union won support of 80 per cent of their members who took part in the ballot for industrial action - but this was less than half its total membership of nearly 40,000.
Up to 200 Securitas staff will be manning fire engines in London during the strike, during which the London Fire Brigade will still attend emergencies but may not attend non-emergency incidents, such as rubbish fires, flooding and trapped animals.
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