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Lincolnshire firefighters go on strike again

Across the county, firefighters from Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue are picketing outside their stations as part of a national strike.

The strike, which is taking place in sections over three days, was organised by the Fire Bridge Union (FBU) over pensions and the current retirement age.

Firefighters are on strike on May 2 from midday to 5pm, then again on May 3 between 2pm and 2am, and May 4, from 10am to 3pm.

There will also be a ban on voluntary overtime from 3pm on May 4 until noon May 9.

The walkouts follow the strike action at the end of last year over pensions, as the government and Fire Brigade Union still have not come to an agreement.

The union would prefer for staff to retire at 55 with their full pension, rather than the required age of 60.

Presently, if a firefighter chooses to retire early due to fitness levels, they will not receive the full pension.

Chris Hides, FBU’s Brigade Chair in Lincolnshire, joined Lincoln firefighters at the picket line at Lincoln South Park station.

He said: “In the last 17 weeks, we’ve been in discussions with the government, however they seem very reluctant to put an offer on the table to improve the pension proposal they put on three years ago.

“Unfortunately, with no proposals on the table, we’ve had to take action again.

“These strikes are important because we’re trying to force the government back around the negotiation table.

“Strike action is a very last resort, no-one wants to take that action, however it can be stopped just by putting an offer forward – such as the one nearly ready a month ago. That’s all we want.”

He added: “People have received us well so far. We’ve had really positive comments from the public and people beeping their horns as they drive past.

“While the public don’t get the intricacies of the dispute, they do understand what’s happening to us.

“The government say our pensions are the most generous, but that’s because of the amount we pay into it. Plus presently if you can’t meet the fitness standards, you could be sacked without getting that pension.

“We urge the public to be vigilant in their home and when they’re out around the county, however we do have a good resilience cover.

“There will be nearly as many pumps on the run today as there would be on a normal day.”

“If there is a major incident, we do have a local agreement where firefighters will be contacted on the picket line to return to duty.”

Dave Ramscar, Chief Fire Officer at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has plans in place to ensure that we continue to provide an emergency response within the county.

“We accept that any planned industrial action will impact on our ability to deliver business as usual, but we are confident that the implementation of our plans will enable us to continue to answer 999 calls and to respond to incidents as quickly as possible.”