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Ex-firefighter's fury over strike cover request

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: August 15, 2013

Comments (5)

A RETIRED firefighter says he is outraged his former bosses have asked if he will cross a picket line to cover for former colleagues if they go on strike.

The Fire Brigades Union is balloting members across the county over possible industrial action in a dispute with the Government on pension reform.

Bosses at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been making contingency plans in the event of an such action, by contacting former employees and offering them the chance to come back and provide cover.

They say they have a legal obligation to ensure the service can continue to provide an emergency response throughout any local industrial action.

But the move has not gone down well with some former fire fighters, who say are not happy at being asked to turn their backs on colleagues they have worked alongside.

One former officer to receive such a letter was Steven Jones, of Cwmafan.

He said: "After 29 years of having the privilege of working alongside some truly remarkable people, I now being 'offered an opportunity' to turn my principles of friendship upside down to accommodate the managers of this organisation.

"While my colleagues stand on the picket line and strive to defend the pension rights of not only themselves, but of future generations of fire fighters, I'm being invited to take their jobs.

"I understand how management need some resilience, but they are asking us to turn blacklegs for the price of Judas to friendships and people I have worked with.

"I found the letter from my former employer highly distasteful, and morally corrupt."

The Fire Brigades Union says it has serious safety concerns if former officers are drafted back into action to provide strike cover.

Barrie Davies, FBU brigade secretary for Mid and West Wales said: "We do have serious concerns that any retired firefighter contacted to provide operational strike cover will not have time to complete the training required to ensure their safety at any incident they may be called to.

"There are also concerns regarding the health of retired firefighters as they will no longer have been required to undergo annual medical checks to ensure their operational fitness."

A spokeswoman for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: "The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is currently balloting its members regarding industrial action over a dispute with the Government on Pension Reforms. This ballot is due to close on August 29, 2013.

"Whilst this is a national dispute between the FBU and the Government, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority has a legal obligation to ensure it can continue to provide an emergency response throughout any local industrial action.

"The authority must make provision for the purposes of promoting fire safety, extinguishing fires, protecting life and property and rescuing people in the event of other emergencies. In so doing we must secure the provision of personnel, services and equipment necessary to meet all normal requirements.

"We have a duty to protect our communities and to ensure 24/7 fire cover should any strike by the FBU go ahead. We are therefore looking at all alternative means to maintain an effective service to respond to emergency calls. To assist in achieving this, we have written to those fire fighters who have recently retired, and still have a level of professional skills that be called upon at short notice in the event of any industrial action."

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  • slim2010  |  September 09 2013, 12:27PM

    Simple give the union the money from the pension fund and let them invest this money and provide their members with pensions. Won't happen of course as the unions know that they could not afford to pay the pensions with the money available. Time for civil servents to bite the bullet on pensions, same as those working in the private sector have had to do for the last 15 years or so.

  • brandon_lewis  |  August 16 2013, 8:57PM

    If you took out a mortgages paying £350 a month (but goes up every year and is about 14%) of your wage. You are told after 30 yrs your house will be paid off, but 20 yrs in you are told actually you still have another 20 yrs left! On top of that you need to be as fit as an 18yr old firefighter when you are 60 and if not you are out of your job with no pay or pension. Would you be happy and sit back and do nothing?

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  • ivorp  |  August 15 2013, 10:40PM

    Good for him, it is time some people stood up against the government and the way it wants to walk over people. I believe the fire fighters are also tax payers and are in the same boat as the public if there is a disaster when they are on strike. Do the firemen get a pension as part of their terms and conditions of employment, if so they are not abusing the tax payers by fighting for it, what about the MP's who fiddled their expenses for years and got away with it, that was taxpayers money. Let us have one set of rules for them and us! I believe he has been brave by showing how the fire service is trying to use retired fire fighters who are probably not fit enough or technically adept enough to work with new procedures and equipment. Does a driver not have to have a current HGV licence to drive a fire engine and how would the brigade get round this. Would they expect them to break the law to accommodate the service. This is an off the top of my head observation , I do not know if they do need an HGV licence but I could find out quite easily as my cousin was a driver with the fire service. How would you like it if someone started messing with your pension, I am angry because women are having their pensions delayed. How can a government change the rules 50 odd years down the line when there is no way any one can make different arrangements to cover the shortfall. When you start wok in 1960 and expect to get a pension when you are 60 then in your mid 50's you get the rules changed I feel that is wrong. People have contributed most of their lives for a pension and at a whim due to bad management the government take away the pension rights. Have the civil servants who make these suggestions and decisions been affected in the same way as an ordinary working person, do they get their pensions much earlier than the ordinary working person

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  • GorsseinonJoe  |  August 15 2013, 5:15PM

    What is the purpose of going public? He could have just ignored the request....simple.

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  • Citizen112  |  August 15 2013, 1:57PM

    I find these articles disturbing on one hand it is interesting to look at the language being used by the Fire Brigades Union and the former firefighter the language used is all about them and team work and yes that is to be respected but what about the PUBLIC??? The Fire Brigades Union have been telling us for months how the changes in the way the Fire Service are arranging how it provides services to the Public would cost lives yet the Union seem to have no real problems with removing this essential service from the Public and going on Strike so what about our houses our possessions if we were to have a fire - what if some of our loved ones are involved in a car accident or our place floods I would want the Service to do all it can to keep us safe expect no I DEMAND that they do it so writing to some former staff members is okay by me as I believe my taxes are still paying for their pensions so surely we still have some call on all that experience and knowledge - don't we?

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