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Hampshire firefighters to walk out on strike over pension dispute
HAMPSHIRE firefighters will walk out on strike this week in a dispute about pension reform.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announced last Tuesday that a four-hour strike will take place across England and Wales between noon and 4pm on Wednesday.
Firefighters voted to strike after negotiations with the Government over planned pension reform broke down.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said that it will remain in operation over the strike period but has asked members of the public for help in reducing the number of calls it receives during this period.
Deputy Chief Officer Dave Curry said: “I want to reassure the public that we will be answering emergency calls and responding to them in the same way during the planned periods of industrial action.
“We are ready and prepared for the industrial action and have a robust business continuity plan in place.
“We will continue to offer a safe level of cover across the county to handle emergencies. However, there is inevitably going to be an impact on our usual response times.
“We would urge the public to be vigilant during the planned strike periods to help reduce unnecessary calls, and to take extra precautions to prevent fires in their own homes and businesses.”
He encouraged Hampshire residents to consider calling other services for non-emergency calls, such as being locked outside their house or a fallen tree on a road.
Under the Government reforms, firefighters will receive their full pension when they reach 60. Fire-fighters argue that many will not be able to maintain the fitness levels required in their late 50s.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to the Government.
“Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions.
“It is ludicrous to expect firefighters in their late 50s to fight fires and rescue families.
“The lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.”
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