Firefighters to hold more strikes

Banbury Cake: More strikes are planned by the Fire Brigades Union More strikes are planned by the Fire Brigades Union

OXFORDSHIRE’S Fire Brigades Union leader yesterday said he would support “prolonged” strikes as more industrial action was announced over Christmas and New Year.

Mark Ames spoke as the union announced three strikes on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and January 3 as well as a ban on overtime from December 27 to 29.

It will be the sixth period of industrial action over moves to increase firefighter retirement age from 55 to 60 and increase members’ pension contributions.

Mr Ames said: “It is such an important issues for us that we are willing to take prolonged industrial action if that is what is needed.”

He said the latest strikes “have demonstrated growing frustration in the FBU that the Government, despite having numerous opportunities for proper negotiation, is still not talking”. Yet he said the periods are not traditionally busy and the “major impetus” was to “make the most impact we can through the media rather than causing potential harm”.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer David Etheridge pledged a “robust plan to provide cover”.

Fire minister Brandon Lewis said he had this month held “constructive” talks with the FBU over fitness tests that determine retirement age and said crews get “the most generous public pension schemes”.

The strikes will take place from 7pm to midnight on Tuesday; 6.30pm the following Tuesday for six hours and 6.30am to 8.30am on January 3.

Participating union members will also refuse voluntary overnight from 7pm on December 27 to 7pm on December 29.

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