A strike in the fire service over changes to the pension scheme came a step nearer today as the Fire Brigades Union conference asked members to â€œprepare for national strike action.â€ But delegates rejected a call from London firefighters for an immediate strike ballot and a strike in August.
General Secretary Matt Wrack said the coalition government wants to have us â€œworking longer, paying more and getting less at the end of it.â€
Ministers want firefighters to work until the age of 60, but Mr Wrack asked if the public â€œreally wants firefighters of 60 and over coming out and trying to rescue people from buildings.â€
The successful resolution promised that the union is â€œcommitted to seeking genuine dialogue and negotiations with governmentâ€ and said that firefighters â€œwill always be extremely reluctant to take any form of industrial action.â€
But Mr Wrack was not optimistic about the outcome, believing that â€œthe only answer will be national strike action and co-ordinating that with colleagues in other unions.â€
London organiser Ben Sprung said an immediate ballot for strike action would â€œensure that we are committed to taking action.â€ He was supported by Pauline Perry of Berkshire who said: â€œPCS have thrown do0wn the gauntlet today â€“ can we not do the same?â€