The fire strike called for the coming weekend in England has been averted in Wales as a result of a significant change of direction by the Welsh government. While the Westminster government continue to ignore the concerns raised by firefighters, the Welsh government have now suggested an improved proposal that could significantly improve the position for a large number of firefighters in Wales. This would involve altering the way firefighters could choose to retire before the age of 60.
This is a breakthrough in the long running pensions dispute and indicates that the Welsh government have taken into account a number of technical arguments which firefighters have raised during negotiations.
In recognition of this firefighters in Wales will not be called to join their colleagues in England in taking strike action for four continuous days from 18:00, Friday 31 October.
The Welsh government confirmed in a letter to the union on 23 October that its fire minister (Minister for Public Services) is now making preparations to consult on pension scheme design which will differ from the one proposed in England. These are arguments which have so far been rejected by DCLG in relation to the English proposals.
The changed position in Wales will need to be fully considered in relation to the lack of any revised proposals from England.
To allow this issue to be fully explored the FBU executive council unanimously agreed not to call Welsh firefighters to take strike action with their English colleagues on this occasion but clarified that this could be a temporary measure and that this decision will be kept under review.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: â€œThis could be a significant improvement for a significant number of firefighters and cannot be ignored.
â€œIt is incredible that the Welsh government recognised this and acted on it whilst the Westminster government continues to ignore all the evidence. It does support our view that strike action is avoidable if there is a willingness to do so but the Westminster government doesnâ€™t seem to want that.â€
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