Union calls off firefighters' strike action

PUBLISHED: 13:31 18 October 2013 | UPDATED: 15:32 18 October 2013

The strike was due to run from 6.30-11.30pm on Saturday. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The strike was due to run from 6.30-11.30pm on Saturday. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Planned strike action by firefighters has been called off as the government has shown "some movement" in talks with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Firefighters had planned to strike between 6.30pm and 11.30pm tomorrow evening in a row over pensions.

The London branch of the FBU tweeted twice.

“BREAKING: Saturday night’s planned strike by firefighters in England and Wales has been *cancelled* by the FBU’s executive council,” said the first tweet.

The second briefly outlined reasons behind the move.

It said: “Tomorrow’s strike cancelled. Some movement from govt [government] on threat of capability dismissal. No movement on retirement age or contributions.”

Firefighters expressed surprise at their union’s decision to back down.

“We understand London members’ surprise & disquiet at today’s decision. Our EC rep voted not to cancel. Regional committee meets Monday,” @LondonFBU later tweeted.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it had had “official confirmation” the strike had been called off.

“Last-minute shifts” in the positions of the government and employers meaning not firefighter will be left without either a job or an unreduced pension were what prompted the review, the FBU said.

It has long-opposed government plans to make firefighters work until they are older and contribute more into their pensions.

The union’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “FBU members want firm guarantees and not just fine words. We have given government the opportunity to progress this matter seriously.

“The Fire Minister has said that the proposal from the employers removes the threat of ‘no job, no pension’.

“Firefighters will have serious concerns about this claim and will want cast iron guarantees that this will be addressed properly.

“The FBU has temporally postponed the planned strike to enable these guarantees to be firmed up.”

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: “The public will welcome the fact that tomorrow’s industrial action has been called off.

“This is as a result of constructive discussions and I hope it provides the basis for a lasting agreement that will give hardworking firefighters one of the most generous pension schemes in the public sector whilst also being fair to taxpayers.”

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