Firefighters' strike over pensions called off

Firefighters attending a union rally Firefighters have been given assurances about working up until the age of 60

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A planned five-hour strike by firefighters in England and Wales has been called off, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said.

The union said the decision came after progress in talks over pensions - the strike had been due to take place from 18:30 until 23:30 BST on Saturday.

The government wants firefighters to work up to 60 but the union says this is too old to be fighting fires.

The FBU said it had been presented with a deal similar to that in Scotland.

This means firefighters will be able to retire on a full pension between the the ages of 55 and 60 if they are genuinely not fit enough and another role cannot be found for them.

A member of staff who does meet the fitness standards and chooses to retire early will get a reduced pension.

Contingency plans

A final agreement has not yet been reached because negotiations will need to take place between ministers and individual fire authorities about how this will be funded.

Firefighters in Scotland voted against a strike.

The FBU said 32,000 union members in England and Wales walked out for four hours when it staged a first round of action last month.

Contingency plans at the 46 fire services in England and three in Wales included using part-time and volunteer firefighters, calling in non-union fire crews and bringing in private contractors.

The armed forces had a back-up role and in the event of a major incident union members could have returned to work.

No major incidents were reported during the strike which was the first national walkout for a decade.

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