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Support our Firefighters!

20/06/2014
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Solidarity with Firefighters’ strikes

10am – 5pm Saturday 21 June2014

Support FBU pickets at firestations across Sussex

Defend Firefighters against “No Job, No Pension”

 Hastings picket line - crop

“It seems that central government doesn’t give a damn about the safety of firefighters. They are willing to risk the lives and safety of firefighters and the public simply to drive through their attacks on our pensions… It’s time for the government to stop putting politics ahead of public safety and work with firefighters to create a pension scheme that reflects the uniquely demanding role that we undertake.”  Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary

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This week another academic study found that the Coalition’s push to lower firefighter’s fitness standards will put people’s lives at risk in the emergency situations when we most rely on our rescue services.  The government’s own research had previously shown that 66% of firefighters aged 55 and above would be unlikely to meet the currently required fitness standard of 42 VO2.  In its drive to force through an increase in the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60, the Coalition proposes a reduced fitness standard of 35 VO2 – put simply, a drop in fitness of nearly 20%.

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The Coalition’s stated aim is to reduce the bill for firefighters’ pensions, yet firefighters already paid more for their pensions than any other part of the public sector before 2010, and have seen contributions increase dramatically under the Coalition.  Such high contributions seem to be an attempt to dissuade firefighters from joining their own pension scheme.  In a further draconian move, under the Coalition’s current proposals, firefighters who are forced to retire before the age of 60 as a result of ageing will have half of their pension taken away.  Alternatively, firefighters may be sacked for failing fitness tests.

Pensions flyer

Nothing Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has done so far has appeared sincere except his support for privatisation of the Fire Service.  An attack on workers’ pensions is always the first move when the government prepares to sell-off a public asset, as private companies do not want the open-ended liability of paying staff pensions.  Cutting a service to the bone is the second step – in an attempt to persuade people that the service could be better run privately.  We are seeing continued huge cuts to Fire Services around Sussex and across the country.  The FBU estimates that 6,000 firefighter posts have been lost in the UK since 2007 which jeopardise the Fire Service’s ability to deal with floods and all major incidents.  Such devastating and reckless cuts are also why firefighters are striking.

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Firefighters are deeply committed to their local communities and do not take strike action lightly: “People do not become firefighters to become rich…(but) to serve the public, to put other people first, to risk their lives to save others”  Simon Herbert, Chair, East Sussex FBU.  However, as this firefighter explains, they are now very angry at their treatment by the government.

Lone picket at Battle Firestation

Please support firefighters’ picket lines when they strike again on Saturday 21 June 2014.  Using these handy tools from the FBU, please write to your MP to object to these changes and also sign the petitions to stop the cuts to the UK’s Fire Services and to stop the attacks on firefighters’ pensions.  The Fire Service is facing huge cuts under the Coalition and Tory Fire Minister Brandon Lewis is pushing a privatisation agenda.  We must stand together with firefighters now to defend our Fire Service. 

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