by Tim Lezard Firefighters in Wales will not be striking alongside their English counterparts this weekend after the Welsh government carried out a “significant change of direction”. While the Westminster government continues to ignore the concerns rai …

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FBU Ring of Fireby Tim Lezard

Firefighters in Wales will not be striking alongside their English counterparts this weekend after the Welsh government carried out a “significant change of direction”.

While the Westminster government continues to ignore the concerns raised by firefighters, the Welsh government has suggested an improved proposal that could significantly improve the position for a large number of firefighters in Wales. This would involve altering the way firefighters could choose to retire before the age of 60.

The FBU says it is a breakthrough in the long running pensions dispute and indicates that the Welsh government have taken into account a number of technical arguments which firefighters have raised during negotiations.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This could be a significant improvement for a significant number of firefighters and cannot be ignored.

“It is incredible that the Welsh government recognised this and acted on it whilst the Westminster government continues to ignore all the evidence. It does support our view that strike action is avoidable if there is a willingness to do so but the Westminster government doesn’t seem to want that.”

The Welsh government confirmed in a letter to the union on 23 October that its fire minister (Minister for Public Services) is now making preparations to consult on pension scheme design which will differ from the one proposed in England. These are arguments which have so far been rejected by DCLG in relation to the English proposals.

The changed position in Wales will need to be fully considered in relation to the lack of any revised proposals from England.

To allow this issue to be fully explored the FBU executive council unanimously agreed not to call Welsh firefighters to take strike action with their English colleagues on this occasion but clarified that this could be a temporary measure and that this decision will be kept under review.

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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