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FIREFIGHTERS TO STRIKE AGAIN IN PENSION ROW.

Byline: Simon Gilbert NEWS REPORTER

FIREFIGHTERS in Coventry and Warwickshire have announced they will strike again this weekend in a dispute over pension changes. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have confirmed that firefighters in England and Wales will stage a five-hour strike on Saturday over its ongoing dispute with the government over proposed changes to pensions and working conditions.

The strike action will start at 6.30pm and run until 11.30pm and is the second strike in four weeks, following similar action on Wednesday, September 25.

The walkout is in opposition to plans to increase firefighters' retirement age to 60. Union chiefs and firefighters claim the plans will put the public at risk - and that older workers face losing their jobs if they fail fitness tests.

The FBU have said that current government proposals would see firefighters who retire or are forced out of work at 55 losing about 50 per cent of their pensions.

Andy Hickmott, chief fire officer of Warwickshire, warned people to be vigilant ahead of the latest round of strikes. He said: "We had hoped that this national dispute would be resolved swiftly and that further strike action could be avoided.

This second strike will be held on a Saturday evening when people may be relaxing at home or out visiting friends so we want the public to be extra vigilant over safety in the home and on the roads.

"We will be taking 999 calls during the strike but we won't be able to respond to all requests as we anticipate a reduced level of cover. We have run a number of exercises to test our contingency planning to prepare for the strike. Our focus will be to prioritise calls where a life may be at risk or if someone needs to be rescued, our response must be to those most in need of our assistance.

"We would ask people to make 999 calls wisely so that only emergency calls are made but if in doubt then they must not hesitate to still call 999. We want the public to take extra care and have put safety information out."

Advice on staying safe, and what to do during the strike, can be found at www.warwickshire.

gov.uk/fireandrescue.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 16, 2013
Words:375
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