A PLANNED strike by firefighters in England and Wales tomorrow has been called off after progress in a dispute over pensions.
The Fire Brigades Union said it had been presented with a similar deal to one made by the Scotland Government, covering the retirement of firemen and women aged between 55 and 60.
A walkout which was due to start at 6.30pm tomorrow will not now go ahead.
The union has raised concerns that moving the pension age from 55 to 60 would lead to firefighters losing their jobs if they failed fitness tests, forcing them to leave on reduced pensions.
Progress has now been made between the union and the Government, with FBU officials saying firefighters would now not face having to quit their job early, on a reduced pension.
The union said there had been a “last-minute shift” in the Government’s and employers’ positions, which effectively guaranteed that no firefighter would be left without either a job or an unreduced pension.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “FBU members want firm guarantees and not just fine words. We have given Government the opportunity to progress this matter seriously.
“The Fire Minister 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 temporally 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 spokesman for the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “We have received confirmation that the FBU strike action on Saturday, October 19, will NOT now go ahead.
“Talks have been progressing this week, and although we do not have the full details, the FBU have decided to cancel the action planned for this Saturday.
“The service hopes that the dispute can be resolved as soon as possible.
“Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will now operate a normal service.
“The service as always, encourages residents to take care, have a working smoke alarm and stay safe from fire.”