FIREFIGHTERS in Wales are preparing to stage a six-hour strike tonight in an ongoing row with the UK Government over proposed changes to pensions.
This evening's walkout - the eighth across England and Wales - will begin at 6.30pm and conclude at 12.30am tomorrow morning, New Year’s Day.
The government proposes to raise firefighters' retirement age from 55 to 60 and increase their pension contributions, a move the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) fears could lead to older staff being sacked or having their pensions reduced.
More action is planned for Friday January 3.
“None of us wanted these strikes, but firefighters on duty over the festive period don’t have much to celebrate this year as they are being priced out of their pensions and face the sack because the government’s can’t accept that 60 year old men and women can’t meet the same fitness standards as 20 year olds," said FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack.
“We need to see genuine dialogue and real negotiations to resolve this dispute."
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said the proposed action today shows the FBU is not serious about resolving a dispute he claims "further damages firefighters' standing with the public."
He called the deal on offer one of the most generous pension schemes in the public sector, offering a firefighter earning £29,000 and retiring at 60 after a full career a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension.
"An equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much," he said.