Over 2,000 firefighters angry at being “lied to” by Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt burnt placards and posters outside Methodist Central Hall yesterday.
The “No More Lies” rally was part of a 24-hour strike organised by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which ended at 7am this morning.
The strike came as the FBU declared changes to pensions schemes and the age of retirement “unworkable”.
Matt Wrack, Head of FBU, told City Vibe that he believed firefighters had been misled over the changes.
City Vibe also spoke to some of the angry protesters. One told our reporter, “They expect us to be on the back of a fire engine ’til we’re 60.
“I’m sorry, but if your house was on fire, would you be happy with a fire engine full of late-fifty-year-olds turning up to save your kids?”
Assistant Divisional Officer of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service Martyn Hodder told City Vibe, “Firefighters up and down the country have had enough. They’re so angry [about] being lied to by the Fire Minister, and we’re down here to show that today.”
Listen below to more of the protesters:
The FBU has stated that before 2010, firefighters were already contributing 11% of their salary towards their pensions.
Penny Mordaunt, Fire Minister, told MPs in a recent debate that firefighters who do not pass fitness tests through no fault of their own will get a full, unreduced pension.
But FBU queries to fire authorities revealed that this was not guaranteed.
This might mean that they are now expected to work until the age of 60, or face a reduced pension.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said:
“All fire and rescue authorities have robust and well tested strike contingency plans in place that include back up support if needed. Public safety is our priority and if anyone needs emergency assistance they should dial 999 and they will get a response from their fire and rescue service.
“Strike action is unnecessary and appears to be over a point which is a vast improvement on the 2006 scheme which required firefighters to work to 60 with no protection. We have been clear that firefighters get an unreduced pension or a job and have changed the National Framework through a statutory instrument to do so. If fire authorities do not produce processes which yield this the Secretary of State has said he will intervene.”