Sunderland and Durham firefighters could go on strike

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FIREFIGHTERS across Wearside and East Durham could strike in the autumn.

The Fire Brigades’ Union has put the Government on notice of a nationwide fire strike over plans for fire crews to “pay more, work longer and get less.”

The union, which is consulting firefighters across the UK, warned industrial action looks increasingly likely and is making preliminary arrangements for balloting members.

The union has raised concerns over changes to the pension scheme, including raising the age to at least 60.

General Secretary Matt Wrack said: “This pensions robbery is a crude smash-and- grab raid on firefighter pension rights to help pay for the budget deficit.

“It is nothing to do with long-term sustainability or affordability.

“These proposals have been drafted by people who are completely ignorant of the real work firefighters are required to do.

“It is daft to expect people of 60 and beyond to work as an operational firefighter. Even the very fittest will struggle to do that.”

Mr Wrack said the pensions contributions rise will lead to an exodus from the main scheme and cost the taxpayer an extra £210million.

He added: “Fire crews will not pay for the mistakes of the Chancellor’s banking friends who brought the public finances to this state.”