Firefighters ‘withdraw goodwill’ in pension row

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Firefighters across the Fylde coast are set to step up protests against pension changes after another round of strike action.

Union chiefs on the Fylde are set to join colleagues across the country in “withdrawing goodwill” – which means not working overtime and refusing to do out-of-hours voluntary work on

behalf of the fire service.

The latest move in the long-running dispute comes after eight days of strike

action, which is set to end this evening.

Chris Molloy (pictured), the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) Blackpool representative, said: “It’s just to show the disgust and anger over this dispute.

“It’s been dragging on for three years now so we need to get a result. There is no goodwill while this is going on.

“We just want to get it sorted as quickly as possible and we want to have as little impact on the public as possible.”

The FBU is campaigning against controversial changes introduced by the Government which it believes will force firemen and women to work into their late 50s or into their 60s.

The last in the series of 16 two-hour walkouts will be held today between 6am and 8am, and between 5pm and 7pm.

Last week Penny Mordaunt took over from Brandon Lewis as the Government minister responsible for the fire service after Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet reshuffle.

Talks to end the action have already been scheduled between the FBU and Ms Mordaunt, which Mr Molloy says is an encouraging sign.

He added: “She said she looks forward to working with us.

“I’m hoping now a fresh face can look at this.

“Firefighters pensions are based on the physical demands of the job and that’s all it is.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government has defended the proposed pensions changes.

A spokesman said: “Firefighters will still have one of the best pensions in the public sector.

“Under the new scheme, a firefighter who earns £29,000 will still be able to retire after a full career aged 60, get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension.

“This is fair to taxpayers and firefighters alike.

“The equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much.

“The proposals also protect more of the earned rights of members than any other public sector scheme, while nearly three quarters will see no change in their pension age in 2015.”