Police civilian staff set to strike
Thousands of police civilian staff including 999 call handlers will strike today to coincide with a fresh walkout by firefighters.
About 7,500 civilian police workers in London will take action for 24 hours in a row over pay while Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members in England and Wales will stop work for six hours from 6.30pm.
It will be the eighth strike by the FBU since September in a bitter dispute over pensions and the retirement age.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union called the London strike in protest at a below-inflation 1% rise.
Police and community support officers, 999 call handlers, detention officers in custody suites and a range of administration and professional support staff are among those who will take action.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The Metropolitan Police is not short of money. It does not need to force pay cuts on low-paid staff who help to keep London safe."
A Metropolitan Police (MPS) spokesman said: "The PCS has now informed the MPS that they intend to take strike action on New Year's Eve - one of the days when demand for our services is highest.
"We have tried-and-tested business continuity plans for all eventualities, including industrial action.
"These ensure that critical functions performed by police staff are performed by police officers who are fully trained in those roles.
"To ensure we are able to implement these plans, we stopped granting any further requests for annual leave or days off for officers and staff in a number of key areas for New Year's Eve in mid-December.
"In some cases we've also had to take the very difficult decision to cancel planned days off for officers with certain critical skills or in critical operational areas.
"These are clearly all steps we'd rather not take but we have to be prepared to maintain critical operational areas in the event of a strike action by police staff, and we are confident that we have appropriate plans in place."
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters on duty over the festive period don't have much to celebrate this year and tomorrow's strike will remind the government of the service we provide 24 hour a day, 365 days a year, every year of our careers.
"Nobody wants these strikes but firefighters remain extremely angry over the prospect of being priced out of their pensions and facing the sack owing to the Government's ludicrous pretence that men and women of 60 can meet the same fitness standards as 20-year-olds.
"The Government at Westminster has acknowledged our concerns but not done anything to seriously address them."
The union said the current storms and floods had highlighted the valuable and wide-ranging job firefighters do. A further strike is being held for two hours from 6.30am on Friday.
The Government said firefighters will still receive generous pensions and has criticised the strikes.
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