Fire strike ‘unavoidable’ says FBU leader Matt Wrack

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One of several FBU demonstrations in London this year against plans to close fire stations, axe appliances and sack firefighters
One of several FBU demonstrations in London this year against plans to close fire stations, axe appliances and sack firefighters

FIREFIGHTERS in England and Wales are preparing for strike action over pensions after governments in Westminster and Cardiff refused to reach a compromise in talks with the Fire Brigades Union.

On Friday, the FBU executive council issued a statement to members saying it had ‘no option’ but to call periods of strike action in England and Wales.

However, revised proposals from the Scottish government mean that industrial action may not proceed in Scotland at this time.

The FBU executive said it would now consult and communicate with FBU members in Scotland and the UK on the proposals received thus far and the ongoing talks.

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: ‘As a result of the refusal of governments in Westminster and Cardiff to see sense on firefighter pensions, it now appears that strike action is unavoidable in England and Wales.

‘Almost 80 per cent of firefighters voted in favour of industrial action if no progress could be made, but we have tried everything to avoid strike action being necessary.

‘Although we are some way from an agreement, the Scottish government’s decision to engage positively with firefighters, offer improved proposals and not set any arbitrary deadlines for talks demonstrates that progress can be made through talks when both sides are willing.

‘However, our strike ballot remains in place in Scotland and our members in Scotland remain ready for action should it be necessary.

‘It’s not too late to avoid a strike: the governments of England and Wales must see sense, put public safety first and come back to the negotiating table willing to compromise.’

Since announcing that almost 80% of members had voted in favour of strike action, the union has met representatives of government in Scotland, Wales and Westminster as well as fire and rescue service employers.

The union’s executive council met last Thursday to review these talks and consider the next steps.

On Friday, the executive council issued its statement to members saying it had ‘no option’ but to call periods of strike action in England and Wales.

The FBU said on Saturday: ‘Announcements of strike action in England and Wales are likely to follow soon.’