Firefighters in Wales stage two-hour strike

  • 4 November 2013
  • From the section Wales
Media captionFirefighters walk out at Cardiff Central fire station

Firefighters in Wales have held a two-hour strike as part of their row with the UK government over pensions.

The walk-out by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) which ended at 08:00 GMT follows another strike on Friday night.

UK ministers plan to raise the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60 and say the industrial action is "completely unnecessary".

The union says 60 is too old to be fighting fires and its members face redundancy if they fail fitness tests.

Following the disruption on Friday, fire chiefs across Wales said arrangements for cover during the walk-out worked well and they praised crews who stayed on at incidents already under way.

North Wales chief fire officer Simon Smith said the organisation managed its services effectively during Monday's strike.

Media captionCerith Griffiths of the FBU defended the strike action

"Although this strike is over, it is as yet unclear whether there will be further industrial action by firefighters so I would remind people that attention to fire safety and road safety remains of paramount importance," he said.

Following Friday's strike, Cerith Griffiths, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in Wales, said his colleagues were acting "reluctantly".

He said: "It's an occupation that requires quite a high level of fitness.

"Firefighters have to enter burning buildings where people are normally going the other way - we have to deal with temperatures that are very high."

'Fitness tests'

He said the equipment fire fighters had to carry when they were dealing with the heat and smoke of a blaze made their working conditions "arduous".

He added: "To try and do that until the age of 60 is going to be very difficult."

The FBU says it fears firefighters will be made redundant if they fail fitness tests and are unable to find other work in the fire service.

The UK government says firefighters have been offered similar fitness principles to those the FBU accepted in Scotland and its proposals offer them one of the most generous pension schemes in the public sector.

Speaking after the series of stoppages was announced, Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: "This strike action by the FBU is completely unnecessary and does nothing but damage the good reputation firefighters have with the public."

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