Firemen get union backing for protest

A previous strike protest at Wigan Fire Station
A previous strike protest at Wigan Fire Station

WIGAN’S fire union leader says he is convinced the ongoing strikes are working despite the bitter dispute with the government over pensions showing no sign of abating.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales will take industrial action tomorrow (Wednesday) for five hours starting from 10.30pm.

And the borough’s branch official for the Fire Brigades Union, Mike Gregory, believes the union’s tough stance will make a difference.

He said: “We all need to stand as one and unite. I’m so proud of all the lads and the fact we have come so far. We’re just protecting future generations.

“I do believe the strike is working and I know we won’t give up. A few weeks ago the Government asked us to call off the strike and we thought they’d negotiate.

“It made us believe that something could change but again they were unwilling to set anything in stone. But I do believe that we must be hitting a nerve.

“We’re very hopeful for tomorrow and I’m hoping for a 100 per cent turn out. I know Wigan has seen a lot of other unions join us. This just shows we have a lot of strength as we also have had a lot of support from the public.”

The union argues that many officers who do not meet the force’s fitness requirements in the latter stages of their career may potentially miss out on full pensions as a result.

And they argue those changes to pensions and the retirement age will see thousands of firefighters lose their job “simply for getting older”.

Mr Gregory added: “We’re not asking for more money we’re just protecting what we’ve already got. We can’t maintain the same fitness as that of a 21-year-old when you’re 60.

“Even Government findings have proved people’s fitness radically decreases as they hit their mid 50s. I believe the community is at risk as there are less firefighters than there used to be five years ago.

“I don’t understand how anybody can cut emergency services down. The strike is our last resort, we really don’t want to do this but we have no choice.

“No firefighters would ever want to walk out on their own community but the Government is just not listening.”