Firefighters in Andover are joining thousands from across the Country this afternoon in a four hour strike from midday against a proposed raise in pension age. Both retained and full-time staff are involved in the action which is being taken after the Government put forward proposals to raise the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60 years old.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say this will put both firefighters and the public at risk as they claim 66% of firefighters in their late 50’s will not be fit enough to continue with the job, a claim the Government who say such a retirement age has been in place since 2006, deny.
Speaking to Andover Town after the strike began, the four firefighters on the picket line made clear that Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has a contingency plan in place that ensures public safety is not at risk, Crew Manager Ali Stone said “We were given the option of choosing to be recalled if there were a major incident“. Non-Union firefighters are still on duty and able to respond to emergencies.
With many worried this will turn into a repeat of the 2002/’03 strike with ‘Green Goddesses’ being deployed in emergencies, the firefighters were hopeful this would not be the case, particularly as the 1950’s vehicles have since been sold.
The strike ends at 16:00 today and those on the picket line in Andover say they hope this will be the only action taken by the FBU.