December 7 2013 Latest news:
by Amanda Nunn
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Firefighters staged a mass walk-out at the borough’s three fire stations today as part of a national strike over pensions and retirement age.
Ron Waite, Fire Brigade Union (FBU) spokesman for Redbridge, was manning the picket line at Woodford Fire Station and said it was unfortunate but necessary.
The union claims the changes will mean firefighters have to work longer, pay more into their pensions and receive less in retirement.
But the government has maintained the changes were fair and would still give firefighters decent pensions.
Mr Waite said: “It’s unfortunate we have had to take this action but we are pleased to have 100 per cent turnout.
“We are facing the most drastic cuts in fire cover since World War II and north-east London is hit particularly badly.”
The fire stations in High Road, Ilford; Snakes Lane West, Woodford, and New North Road, Hainault, walked out at noon for the four-hour strike.
“The main reason is the change to our pension structure and wanting us working to 60,” Mr Waite said.
“That’s ridiculous, the government’s own inquiry showed that two-thirds of those over the age of 50 didn’t meet the requirements.”
He said the raising of the retirement age was dangerous for the public and firefighters themselves as they needed to be fit for the role.
Mr Waite also defended firefighters’ pensions, saying: “People say it is a good pension, but we have to pay between £300 to £400 a month throughout our careers.
“We want the government to come back around the table and talk to us about this.”
London fire commissioner Ron Dobson – who has faced criticism from the FBU over his support for London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to cut more than 550 fire jobs and 10 stations – hit back.
“As firefighters our job is to protect the public from fire day and night so it is a pity that strike action is being taken,” he said.