FIRE crews in South Tyneside are lining up another eight days of industrial action
The strikes will take place in one and two-hour blocks from Saturday, August 9, as part of the firefighters’ dispute with the Government over proposed changes to their pensions.
The Fire Brigades Union says the current proposals are unworkable, and mean that firefighters will face dismissal simply because they cannot maintain the high physical fitness requirements necessary for their role until they are 60.
Those who opt for early retirement face an “unacceptably high” reduction in their pensions, they claim.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer Tom Capeling said: “This latest period of industrial action takes place during the summer months and during the school holidays.
“With the sunny weather, it means more people will be having barbecues, so we would encourage everyone to do so safely.
“We would encourage everyone to take extra care while cooking and while on the roads, and to ensure they have working smoke alarms on each level of their homes.
“We would also suggest that business owners and managers check that their fire-risk assessments are up to date and that their staff know what to do in the event of a fire.
“The service has plans in place to offer a limited response service during industrial action, and attendance at incidents will be prioritised according to the risk to life and property.”
Matt Wrack, the union’s general secretary, said: “It is absolutely ludicrous that a government can impose a scheme which means that firefighters will have to ride engines and rescue people from fires up to the age of 60.
“This is unsafe and unrealistic for both firefighters and the public. We know it, and the public know it, but the Government will not listen to the evidence-based case we have made to them.”
The strikes will take place for eight days from Saturday August 9, until Saturday, August 16, between noon and 2pm and 10.59pm and 11.59pm.
The service has issued advice on how to stay safe on its website at www.twfire.gov.uk
Fire safety information is also available from fire stations or at www.facebook.com/twfrs, www.twitter.com/tyne_wear_frs