Bolton firefighters strike in row over pensions
FIREFIGHTER Rob Grundy made his point outside Farnworth Fire Station as crews across the borough took to the picket lines to protest about changes to their pensions
BOLTON’S firefighters took to the picket lines to protest about “disgraceful” changes to their pension deal.
There were demonstrations across the borough as crews expressed anger at the prospect of firefighters having to work to the age of 60.
They were also concerned about what they have called “shambolic” replacement crews who were called on to protect Bolton during the strike from noon until 4pm.
Rob Grundy, chairman of the Fire Brigades Union for Bolton and Wigan, who was protesting outside Farnworth fire station, said: “After seeing what is inside the station supposedly to protect people, it’s shambolic and nowhere near adequate.”
The union has said government proposals would mean a sharp increase in members’ pension contributions and mean firefighters would be more likely to be sacked without access to a proper pension if they cannot maintain fitness standards as they approach the new retirement age.
Mr Grundy added: “We are being asked to bankroll the government and plug their gaps.”
At Bolton Central station in Moor Lane, a group of about 30 firefighters were joined by supporters and members of other unions as they held up placards and handed out leaflets.
Union representative, Andrew Foy, aged 33, said: “We have been mis-sold our pensions and are now being told we will have to work to the age of 60 rather than 52.
“It’s a real danger to the public because most people will not want an older man in his late 50s rescuing them from danger — it’s not safe for us or them.”
Fellow representative, Iain Griffiths, aged 49, said he has been with the service for 24 years.
He added: “I’m distraught to be on strike, we don’t want to be doing this and it could be avoided if the government would just sit down with us, but they won’t.
“I think it is disgraceful work by penny-pinching bureaucrats.”
During the four-hour strike there were no major incidents reported in the borough.
Chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr David Acton, said: “We’d like to thank the public for their vigilance leading up to and during the industrial action.”
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