Firefighters in Hackney walk out in strike in a row over pensions

Firefighters strike

Firefighters strike - Credit: Archant

Men and women from the borough’s four fire stations downed tools and walked out for four hours today as part of the pre-planned industrial action.

Under new government plans, firefighters in England will pick up their full pension once they hit 60.

Currently they can claim their pension at the age of 55 and the Fire Brigades Union argues this is unfair as many firefighters would not be able to keep their fitness to an appropriate level at that age – possibly endangering the public.

The FBU also claim that if a firefighter decides to push ahead and retire at 55 they would lose thousands of pounds.

Staff from stations in Stoke Newington, Homerton, Kingsland and Shoreditch joined in the strike which began at 12 and ended at 4pm.

Matt Wrack, general secretary Fire Brigades Union, said: “It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.

None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.” Despite the walkout, the London Fire Brigade had contingency plans in place which meant they were still able to respond to serious incidents across the capital.

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During the strike, emergency cover was provided from 13 strategic locations by 27 fire engines and around 200 staff.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said “I’m pleased that our plans to provide a contingency fire and rescue service in the capital worked well. I’d like to thank the contingency crews for the professional way in which they have delivered the emergency cover and also the police and ambulance services for their assistance today.

“I’m also grateful to Londoners for playing their part and taking on board our advice to take extra care during the strike.

“While I am pleased that our contingency service has proved itself today I hope the pensions dispute between the FBU and the Government can be resolved without further industrial action so that they are not needed again.”