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Grays firefighters strike in pensions row
12:47pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS in Grays have been making a stand after proposed changes to their pension left them incensed.
A number of strikes were held by members of the Fire Brigade Union across south Essex on Wednesday, September 25 as the workforce disagrees with government’s decision to raise the retirement age to 60.
Around 30 members of the FBU waved placards and flags outside Grays Fire Station to express their displeasure.
They are also angry they are being told to work 40 years rather than 30 before they can get a full pension, despite contributing more to pension funds than other public sector workers.
Union members staged a four-hour protest at what they feel are wholly unrealistic and unworkable changes to their pensions.
Richard Maddams, spokesman for the FBU at Grays Fire Station, said: “These changes pose a very real concern to many firefighters in the union.
“Fitness levels need to be high in a job of this nature and if you are 60-years-old many will not be able to perform their duties at the levels they could five years previously.
“If these changes come into place 23 per cent of fireefighters could face the sack before they can even pick up their pension.
“I was due to retire at 53 but could now have to work an extra seven years.”
Government statistics estimate 92 per cent of firefighters will fail their fitness tests after they reach 55, meaning they will lose their pension.
Riccardo la Torre, Essex branch manager of the FBU, said: “Would you want your grandparents crawling through homes filled with smoke in 1000 degree heat?
“All evidence suggests the majority of firefighters can’t maintain their fitness standards in their late 50s.
“If they fail they can’t just be redeployed to an office job like in other industries because there aren’t the jobs. It is unrealistic and unworkable. Everyone knows that.”
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