FIREFIGHTERS in South Tyneside are to take strike action on eight consecutive days from next week in their dispute with the Government over planned changes to their pensions.
The strikes will take place between 6am and 8am and 5pm and 7pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week.
The action will continue on Friday, July 18, with action between 6am and 8am and 11pm and 1am on Saturday, July 19.
They will also strike between 11am and 1pm and 11pm and 1am on Sunday, July 20. The action on Sunday will be between 7pm and 9pm and, on Monday, July 21, from 6am to 8am and 5pm to 7pm.
The Fire Brigade Union has been in negotiations with the Government for three years in an attempt to avoid the implementation of plans that they say would see firefighters paying more, working longer and receiving less.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The Government must realise that firefighters cannot accept proposals that would have such devastating consequences for their futures and the future of the fire and rescue service itself.
“We have tried every route available to us to make the Government see sense over their attacks.
“Shorter strike periods have illustrated the strength of feeling amongst firefighters, whilst limiting disruption to the fire service, the public and our members’ working lives.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said: “The Fire Authority and I have a legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service as far as is reasonably practicable.
“The service has plans in place to offer a limited response service during industrial action.
“These plans have been in place for a number of years and we have put them into action during the industrial action by the FBU in relation to the pensions dispute.
“This plan is not designed to replicate the excellent service our firefighters provide every day of the week; however, it is designed to provide a core operational service in the event of industrial action.
“We hope that talks between the two parties will continue and that the industrial action can still be avoided.”
He added: “We would like to ask the public to take extra care with fire safety during the industrial action.
“More than 60 per cent of fires we attend start in the kitchen, and these periods of strike action occur over breakfast and evening meal times, so we would like people to take extra care when cooking.
The service has information on how people can stay safe from fire on its website at www.twfire.gov.uk.