Firefighters to strike on one of their busiest days of the year
6:00am Thursday 31st October 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS in Bolton will be on strike for five hours tomorrow — so the “importance of their work” is highlighted to the Government in the run up to Bonfire Night.
Crews across town will be at picket lines between 6.30pm and 11.30pm tomorrow and 6am to 8am on November 4, as part of a dispute over retirement age and pensions.
Tomorrow’s industrial action will coincide with bonfire parties across Bolton — as well as the council’s annual fireworks display in Leverhulme Park.
Council bosses say the display “should take place as normal”.
Contingency plans are in place to compensate for firefighters’ absence — calls will be prioritised, and bin fires are unlikely to be attended.
The strike is a continuation of the row between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Government over the retire-ment age being raised to 60.
The FBU cites a “refusal” to address concerns that firefighters could be left with no pension and no job and that people who are unable to carry on must try to improve their fitness over a six-month period or risk being left with no job, and no pension, until they reach 60.
Simon Yaffa, Greater Manchester brigade chairman, said: “The best time for us to highlight the importance of our work to the Government is the time running up to Bonfire Night. Bonfire Night itself is often quiet, but the Fridays and Saturdays before are usually busy periods and that is why the Friday was chosen.
“We have got to balance between making our point and ensuring that the public are safe and it goes against the grain for us to strike at all given the nature of our work.”
County fire officer Steve McGuirk said: “We have recruited and trained an emergency fire crew to provide fire cover. This will be much reduced from our usual service with fewer engines attending a limited range of incidents and we will be prioritising calls.
“Local people need to start thinking about their own safety — make sure they have a working smoke alarm, know the main causes of fire, have a fire escape plan and carry out a bedtime routine.”
Bolton Council stressed there had never been any incidents at the Leverhulme Park event in its 25-year history and that “subject to the weather” it would take place. A spokesman said: “We are pleased that the fire service is providing essential emergency cover.”
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