Fire union chiefs say the decision to strike over pension reforms was “inevitable”.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announced yesterday its members had voted in favour of taking industrial action over Government proposals to change the service’s retirement age from 55 to 60.
Chris Molloy, the FBU’s Blackpool representative, said: “It was inevitable really and we’ll have to see what happens next.
“Seventy-eight per cent voted in favour which I’m very pleased with, given the way the Government has tried to split our membership.
“It’s a very strong show of support when you consider there’s quite a large proportion of members guaranteed a pension because they’re coming up to pensionable age, but still want to support younger members.”
The FBU had made demands including a flexible retirement age after firefighters turn 55 and no further increases in contributions towards the pension scheme after a motion was passed at its conference, held at Blackpool’s Imperial Hotel in May.
Mr Molloy added: “Hopefully it’ll send a message to the Government so we can sit down and start talking again because the last thing we want to do is actually strike.
“We’re just after a fair, workable and affordable pension.”
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack added the result was “a clear indication of the anger felt by firefighters”.
Strike action must be taken within 28 days, but no date has yet been set.
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said he does not believe the action is “necessary”.