08:00 Saturday 19 October 2013

Firefighters' strikes called off after talks progress

Written byRICH GUTTRIDGE

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FIREFIGHTERS’ strikes which were set to bring disruption to the region tonight have been cancelled at the eleventh hour.

The Fire Brigades Union said the decision to call off strikes shows they are a ‘responsible trade union’.

Action scheduled for tonight was cancelled yesterday after talks between the Fire Brigades Union and the Government progressed.

The strikes would have seen firefighters walk out for five hours tonight - traditionally the busiest time of the month, and coming less than a month after previous action.

That threat seems to have persuaded the Government to act.

Richard Williams, chairman of the Fire Brigades Union in Staffordshire, said it would be foolish to expect no further action despite the cancellation.

Firefighters were due to walk out over pensions, but it appears union and Government could be close to striking a deal.

Unions were unhappy at the decision to increase the retirement age from 55 to 60 as well as cuts to pensions.

Bosses fear that if firefighters fail fitness tests beyond the age of 55 they will be forced out of work as there is currently a lack of operational roles within the service.

Mr Williams told the Mail: “There has been a progression between the union and central government and at this point in time we don’t want to take industrial action.

“It’s important while talks are continuing that we take heed of that and don’t take action.

“The Government are back round the table but it only takes talks to break down and we will be back where we are.

“There are lots of points that need to be addressed and from what we can see some of those points are starting to be addressed.

“We appreciate that people’s lives are at risk by taking industrial action and we want to be a responsible trade union.”

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