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BREAKING: Fire crews down tools and strike

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: May 02, 2014

STANDING FIRM . . . firefighters Keith Townsend and Pete Wildman with crew manager Gaz Smith, William and Paul Walker, of RMT Union Burton branch, outside Burton Fire Station.

STANDING FIRM . . . firefighters Keith Townsend and Pete Wildman with crew manager Gaz Smith, William and Paul Walker, of RMT Union Burton branch, outside Burton Fire Station.

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FIREFIGHTERS downed tools for five hours as they headed behind the picket line as part of an ongoing pensions row.

Crews from fire stations in Burton, Barton under Needwood, Tutbury, Swadlincote and Melbourne stopped working from noon to 5pm yesterday after efforts to reach an agreement – over proposals which would see them work until they are 60 to get their full pension – fell apart.

Fortunately, no emergency incidents were reported across the area during that time.

However, the respite will be brief as firefighters again head on strike today, from 2pm to 2am, and then on Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

Staffordshire’s chief fire officer Peter Dartford thanked members of the community for being extra vigilant during yesterday’s industrial action.

He said: “We have worked very hard with the support of other local agencies to promote vital safety messages ahead of and during this strike action.

“Local communities have clearly taken notice of our campaign.

“I would like to thank residents of Staffordshire for their vigilance, but remind them that there are further periods of strike action planned.

“Once again we will have emergency response arrangements in place, but it will not be business as usual. Therefore we need residents and business to continue taking extra care.”

Matt Wrack, the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) general secretary, said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case of the need to ensure a pension scheme takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, we feel the Government is still burying its head in the sand. Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute.”

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