Dacorum firefighters expected to strike twice more as pension talks fail

Hemel Hempstead fire fighters take part in a national strike in a row over pensions, September 25 2013.
Hemel Hempstead fire fighters take part in a national strike in a row over pensions, September 25 2013.

Dacorum firefighters are expected to take part in two further strikes as attempts to resolve a dispute over pension changes fail.

The Fire Brigades Union has called for walk-outs on November 1 and 4 after failing to come to an agreement with the government and fire service employers.

A five-hour strike planned for Saturday, October 19, was called off when it seemed employers were changing their position on the new recommendations which would see all firefighters working to the age of 60 – regardless of when they entered the service – or risk reduced pensions.

At the time of the postponement, Herts’ chief fire officer Roy Wilsher said: “Strike action in a key public service can only be to the detriment of Hertfordshire’s residents and we are pleased that discussions are taking place to resolve the national dispute without a walkout. We hope that this is a positive sign that the dispute is progressing forward and a speedy resolution will be found in the interest of all concerned.”

Since then the union has said it has been provided with no guarantees that firefighters would not be left in a ‘no job, no pension’ quandary.

Union secretary Matt Wrack said: “We have been very reasonable, but we are now faced with broken promises and those in power evading their responsibilities.

“Firefighters face the sack towards the end of their career and the loss of their pension. That can’t be right. The employers promised to tackle the issue of firefighters facing the sack for failing fitness tests last week, only to say they can’t offer any guarantees this week. That is simply not the way to run a public service.

“Firefighters don’t want to go on strike, but we are left with no option.”

The first of the new strikes will take place from 6.30pm until 11pm on Friday, November 1. The second on the following Monday is scheduled for 6am to 8am.

The second strike will coincide with a postal workers’ walkout called by the Communications Workers Union for the same day.

The picket line has already been set up on social media, with the county’s branch of the union responding to a tweet by fire chief Mr Wilsher challenging him to attend a meeting in Hatfield on Wednesday.

Mr Wilsher posted on the microblogging site: “Great disappointment that the Fire Brigades Union feels the need to announce two further strike dates,” to which @FBUHerts responded: “Come to meeting on 30th at Hatfield and you will hear why. Also happy to meet in person #FirePensions.”