UK Firefighters' Strike Called Off

The five-hour strike set for Oct. 19 has been "postponed" as the Fire Brigades Union continues to discuss pension issues with its members' employers.

Firefighters in England and Wales will not be on strike from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Oct. 19 after all, now that the Fire Brigades Union has decided to postpone the job action called because of a dispute over planned government reforms of the firefighters' pension plan.

The London Fire Brigade and the FBU both confirmed Oct. 18 the strike was called off. "Although the industrial action will no longer be taking place it is still important to make sure you and your family are safe from fire," the brigade noted.

The FBU's statement said the strike was postponed "after last-minute shifts in stated positions of the government and the employers, which they claim effectively guarantee that no firefighter will be left without either a job or an unreduced pension. The FBU received a letter from the fire service employers outlining principles on fitness and capability similar to those proposed in Scotland. The union also received further commitments from the English fire minister to adopt the Scottish principles on 'no job, no pension,' as well as a review of fitness training, monitoring and application."

"FBU members want firm guarantees and not just fine words. We have given government the opportunity to progress this matter seriously," said Matt Wrack, the FBU's general secretary. "The fire minister has said that the proposal from the employers removes the threat of 'no job, no pension.' Firefighters will have serious concerns about this claim and will want cast-iron guarantees that this will be addressed properly. The FBU has temporally postponed the planned strike to enable these guarantees to be firmed up. However, there are a number of important and unresolved elements of our dispute, and we need to be clear that we may have to resort to further strike action."

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