Union says that firefighters were misled on pensions

Cllr Stephen Morgan, MP

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FIREFIGHTERS went on strike for the first of four days as rows over their pensions rumble on.

Across Portsmouth and the surrounding areas, firefighters who are members of the Fire Brigades Union walked out.

PICKET Firefighters from Cosham Fire Station with representatives from the Fire Brigades Union

PICKET Firefighters from Cosham Fire Station with representatives from the Fire Brigades Union

The industrial action comes after the government failed to give them certain terms on their pension.

Hampshire FBU secretary Gary Jackson said: ‘We have been in negotiations with the government for three years now to change the pension scheme.

‘But despite there being a new Fire Minister, MP Penny Mordaunt, the terms they put before us were the same.

‘They hinted there would be something better but when they showed us, nothing had changed.

‘We felt like we were led up the garden path.’

Firefighters are asking for a better pension scheme as they currently have to work until they are 60.

If their fitness declines, they get a reduced pension when they retire.

The FBU received the new terms on October 23 and has to give seven days notice before its members can strike.

Industrial action will continue until 6pm on Tuesday.

Mr Jackson added: ‘Our strike action didn’t intentionally fall on the weekend leading up to Bonfire Night.

‘But this is seven days after we received the terms.

‘We were just so angry we couldn’t put the strikes off.’

He said that while the strikes are on, people should go to organised firework displays.

‘For safety reasons, we say people should only attend public, organised displays and put off any private ones until after the strike action is finished.

‘There are contingency plans throughout the four days and other fire stations covering those on strikes but there could be delays in response times.

‘We recommend people wait until Bonfire Night or next weekend.’

Retained firefighters will be providing emergency cover.