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East Lancashire firefighters warn of further strike action
FIREFIGHTERS in East Lancashire will go on strike again if a long-running dispute over pensions is not resolved, a top union official has said.
Steve Harman, the Lancashire secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the majority of the its 1,000-strong membership in the county would support further industrial action.
Staff across England and Wales staged walk-outs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday after failing to reach an agreement with the government.
Union members went on strike for five hours on Friday, from 2pm on Saturday to 2am on Sunday, and between 10am and 3pm today.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue said the majority of the county’s fire engines remained operational for the duration of the three day strike.
Firefighters attended more than 40 incidents.
A spokesman said: “Many of these were to false alarms and small fires involving rubbish or in the outdoors."
Authorities were forced to make alternative arrangements for fire cover and Mr Harman said workers would continue to fight for ‘respect’.
He said: “The firefighters in Lancashire are determined to fight unjust government changes which we believe are unsustainable.
“We believe the changes will make the pension scheme unworkable.”
Mr Harman said young firefighters were already having to pay higher pension contributions and faced working into their late 50s before retiring.
He added: “Contributions of 14 per cent are already driving younger members out of the pension scheme, which means they’re not going to have long-term security. We think that’s unjust.
“Whether we take further industrial action is up to the government. There will be further industrial action if the government doesn’t make changes to make sure we have a workable pension scheme.”
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The government is clear that further change can be made through constructive engagement, but not under the shadow of industrial action, which only serves to damage firefighters' standing with the public.”
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