Fire union members vote in favour of strike action

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AN overwhelming majority of firefighters have voted in favour of industrial action over an ongoing pension dispute which could see the first fire service strike in over a decade.

Seventy-eight per cent of members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) voted yes in a ballot made public yesterday, but the union has stressed that a strike would be a last resort.

Dave Turner, brigade secretary of the Tyne and Wear FBU, who is based in Washington, said: “A 78 per cent vote is an overwhelming vote of support.

“Hopefully, the fire minister and Government will now realise the strength of feeling and come back to the negotiating table, so we can resolve this matter without the need for industrial action.

“We want a pension scheme that is affordable and fair and sustainable.

“In over two years of negotiations, they have failed to do this.”

Mr Turner added: “We ask the Government to come back with a degree of common sense.”

The FBU argues that firefighters are being asked to pay far more into their pension scheme, although more than half will be sacked before they are able to retire, because they will fail fitness tests.