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Halton firefighters join national strike in protest over pensions
FIREFIGHTERS in Widnes and Runcorn will be walking out today as a row over pensions continues.
Cheshire Fire Brigade Union members will be on strike from 6.30pm and 11pm this evening and on Monday from 6am to 8am.
The move comes after the Government announced it would be increasing the pension age to 60, which has been described by union members as ‘unachievable and dangerous’.
Dave Williams, Cheshire Fire Brigade Union secretary, said: “Firefighters are disappointed the Government are still dragging their heels over this issue.
“Since the last strike the Government finally came to the table and there was an acceptance there’s an issue with firefighters working to 60 and many would find it difficult through no fault of their own maintaining the fitness levels required.
“But they’re not seeing the scale of the issue and have not given us any written assurances about the situation.
“The goal posts have been moved and firefighters are now expected to pay more into their pensions, work longer and receive less.”
Residents had raised concerns over the timing of the strikes in the build-up to Bonfire Night but Mr Williams said industrial action is only ever used as a last resort.
He added: “The support we had last time was tremendous and we hope the public will continue to understand the arguments and see all we are looking for is a fair deal for firefighters.”
A Cheshire Fire spokesman said officers and firefighters who are not in the union will be working during the strike but urged people to be careful as less fire engines would be available.
He added: “It is especially important to be extra vigilant on Friday night as this falls within the service’s bonfire period, which is traditionally a very busy time for fire crews.
“We would urge people to only attend organised bonfire and firework displays and urge groups to consider holding bonfire and firework displays on Saturday or Sunday evening when a greater number of fire engines will be available should there be an issue.”
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