Dacorum firefighters’ strike postponed as national progress talks continue

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 fire crews will no longer strike tomorrow evening after being offered a guarantee that no firefighters will be left without either a job or full pension.

The planned five-hour strike, which was due to take place from 6.30pm to 11.30pm tomorrow evening, has now been postponed due to the last-minute change in government and employers’ positions.

The national Fire Brigades Union, which called the strike, received a letter from fire service employers outlining principles on fitness and capability, as well as commitments to review fitness training and monitoring.

Union general secretary Matt Wrack said today: “FBU members want firm guarantees and not just fine words. We have given government the opportunity to progress this matter seriously.

“The Fire Minister for England has said that the proposal from the employers removes the threat of ‘no job, no pension’. Firefighters will have serious concerns about this claim and will want cast iron guarantees that this will be addressed properly.

“The FBU has temporarily postponed the planned strike to enable these guarantees to be firmed up. However, there are a number of important and unresolved elements of our dispute and we need to be clear that we may have to resort to further strike action.”

A key point in the FBU’s dispute is that firefighters will be unable to reach the new imposed pension age of 60.

According to the union, the government’s own figures have shown that thousands of firefighters could have faced the sack without access to a proper pension because they are getting older.

A recent government review found that over half of current firefighters between the ages of 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards for fighting fires. Beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to meet the standards.

Tomorrow’s strike in Dacorum would have been the second in under a month, after a four-hour walkout was staged on September 25. The strike tomorrow would also have coincided with the Hertfordshire Excellence, Achievement, Recognition and Thanks – or HEART – awards run by the county fire and rescue service, which is still due to go ahead.

Herts’ chief fire officer Roy Wilsher tweeted today: “It appears that the Fire Brigades Union strike planned for tomorrow evening has been cancelled, let us hope we do not see any more.”