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Halton firefighters 'overwhelmed with support' for their strike
HALTON firefighters say they were overwhelmed with support from the public for their strike.
Crews in Widnes and Runcorn staged a four hour walk out on Wednesday in a dispute over pensions.
They joined forces with 32,000 colleagues across the country.
Dave Williams, Cheshire Fire Brigade Union secretary, said today: “It was with great regret that firefighters took strike action but they did it with a great amount of pride. They felt fully justified in taking action.
“They feel anger and frustration that the government doesn’t want to engage with us on issues of concern we have raised with them.
“We’re not asking to be a special case.
“Two-thirds of current firefighters would not pass the required fitness standards when they are aged 55-60.
“We have paid into pensions for 30 odd years and won’t be allowed to retire with dignity and pick up a pension.”
He said firefighters fear they will be left with no job and no pension if the government forces them to work until they are 60.
Currently firefighters pay 13.2 per cent into a pension scheme and retire after 30 years with a service retirement age of 55.
Mr Williams added: “When I joined 30 years ago, there were certain aspects of the role, such as wearing breathing apparatus, that you didn’t do after 45.
“A lot of changes need to be introduced to make it a workable pension.
“The government has moved the goal posts.
“If we are still in this position where the government hasn’t come to the table, more strike dates will be called.”
He stressed that firefighters have an agreement that they would return to duty whilst on strike if there was a major incident.
He said: “We understand we are here to serve the community. That’s what it’s all about.
“From the picket lines, phone-ins, and twitter, we received a lot of favourable comments. That has boosted the morale of firefighters.”
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