PICTURED: Sidcup and Erith fire crews mark final day of strike

PICTURED: Sidcup and Erith fire crews mark final day of strike

Sidcup fire station pictured by Gordon Fielden @GordonFielden

Strikes in Erith pictures by @mrjeff35

First published in News

Firefighters across Bexley marked the final night of an eight-day strike last night (August 16).

Crews at Erith and Sidcup fire stations gathered around bonfires during the sixteenth strike in eight days.

Strikes ran from August 9 - August 16 between 12pm and 2pm and 10.59pm and 11.59pm in an ongoing row over pensions between the Fire Brigades Union and the government.

News Shopper:

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “It is absolutely ludicrous that a government can impose a scheme which means that firefighters will have to ride engines and rescue people from fires up to age 60.

“This is unsafe and unrealistic for both firefighters and the public.

“We know it, and the public know it, but the government will not listen to the evidence based case we have made to them."

Comments (4)

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3:16pm Sun 17 Aug 14

Gypo.Joe says...

The fire fairies can't wait to get back to 'work' for a rest and a good nights sleep.
The fire fairies can't wait to get back to 'work' for a rest and a good nights sleep. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 10

8:52pm Sun 17 Aug 14

20aDay says...

Let's respect the bravery of the guys n girls of our fire service. They do when called put their lives on the line.
Having said that I do believe that emergency services should not strike.
We live in a elective Democracy that allows you to vote for the best of a bad bunch and whoever wins makes the rules!
I would lay a pound to a penny that any self respecting fire fighter would up-tools when on strike if lives are in danger but SECONDS SAVE LIVES.
Let's respect the bravery of the guys n girls of our fire service. They do when called put their lives on the line. Having said that I do believe that emergency services should not strike. We live in a elective Democracy that allows you to vote for the best of a bad bunch and whoever wins makes the rules! I would lay a pound to a penny that any self respecting fire fighter would up-tools when on strike if lives are in danger but SECONDS SAVE LIVES. 20aDay
  • Score: -1

6:55pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Hatersgonnahate says...

Support your firefighters..

Picture this: you walk into McDonalds and order a double McCheese Burger. The sales assistant tells you it’ll cost £2, and you hand over your freshly minted £2 piece. The assistant goes away and comes back with a single McCheese Burger. You enquire as to why he’s given you a single McCheese Burger, when you bought and paid for a double. Then he replies “sorry sir, I know that’s what you ordered, and I know that’s what you paid for, but the economic circumstances of McDonalds have changed since you paid and I am only now going to give you a single, so we can help reduce our deficit” Would you accept that as a good explanation?

That’s what your government, and I do say your government, is trying to do to the Fire Fighters and Fire Services in The UK. They want to save 73 million pounds by halving the fire fighter’s pensions if they retire at 55, when they are currently entitled to. If they want the full pension they’ll have to work to at least the age of 60.

You might think that sounds ridiculous. I think most people would find that to be drastically unfair. I think most people would think if you join a pension service on certain terms then your provider should not be the one trying to get out of it – especially when you know they used some of your money to prop up failing banks that they allowed to act like drunken arseholes with your money, whilst you worked your nads off to support your family through the crisis they created. You might think that and you’d be right too. But your government doesn’t see it that way. Not only is it doing this to fire fighters, it’s doing it to the police and teachers too.

If you don’t think it’s a problem, why don’t you apply this line of thought to your own life. Try renegotiating your contract with your mobile phone provider. Tell them you don’t fancy paying the full rate any more. Even tell the government you don’t like your council tax band and you’re going to move down a few – see what happens. One rule for you buddy - it’s quite another for them.

Let’s forget all the scare mongering and hyperbole. It’s simply morally abhorrent to take money from employees to fund a pension, on the promise of a certain payout at the end, then change it so drastically before they get it.

You could change it for new entrants. It wouldn’t be a good idea if you want a good fire service, but it would be morally more defensible. You cannot morally do this to anyone who has joined on the basis of the current pension.

Oh and a few points for anyone still against the fire fighters:-

Yeah some of them have 4 day on / 4 days off patterns and they get second jobs – they work a full week in those 4 days so you get your money’s worth. Unless they spend the other 4 days as an arsonist, It’s not your business what they do in their days off. However no one is stopping you from taking a second job either.

They get paid a good wage – sure they do, but that’s an argument to raise your wages, not to destroy their pension. Don’t be so bloody British about it i.e. petty, small minded and jealous.

I have to work until 60 – you may have to, but imagine a fire fighter dragging around heavy hoses and running up stairs in an oxygen tank. How long you think that oxygen will last if the guy breathing it is 58?

They should stay fit – big talk from one of the most obese populations in the world. I did their training during the last strike, as an emergency trained fire fighter with the RAF. There were guys in the RAF in their 40′s on the same course as me who sucked in oxygen at such a rate their tanks ran out far too quick to save your life in a fast fire.

And another thing, do you really think the government expects to have 60 year old fire fighters? No of course it doesn’t. It knows that what’s more likely is that the current set will get annoyed and demoralised. They know some of them will fail the fitness test and that a good number will simply leave before they get to 55. It’s the same strategy they’ve employed with the police. They hope to stop people from joining the services for life, just so they don’t have to pay good pensions. Their chosen employee is a young 25 year old, who joins for a few years, gains some experience then uses it to get a better job.

Believe me, the actions of the government will save money. There’s no doubt about that. The problem is that it’ll be at the expense of expertise, ability, safety, capability, and essentially all of the qualities that you’ll expect from the person who comes to save you from your fire, investigate your crime, or teach your children.

If you want good public services, you’ve got to pay for them, and you’ve got to be fair with their pensions. If you don’t support them, you won’t have a leg to stand on when the government comes for your money and your pensions.
Support your firefighters.. Picture this: you walk into McDonalds and order a double McCheese Burger. The sales assistant tells you it’ll cost £2, and you hand over your freshly minted £2 piece. The assistant goes away and comes back with a single McCheese Burger. You enquire as to why he’s given you a single McCheese Burger, when you bought and paid for a double. Then he replies “sorry sir, I know that’s what you ordered, and I know that’s what you paid for, but the economic circumstances of McDonalds have changed since you paid and I am only now going to give you a single, so we can help reduce our deficit” Would you accept that as a good explanation? That’s what your government, and I do say your government, is trying to do to the Fire Fighters and Fire Services in The UK. They want to save 73 million pounds by halving the fire fighter’s pensions if they retire at 55, when they are currently entitled to. If they want the full pension they’ll have to work to at least the age of 60. You might think that sounds ridiculous. I think most people would find that to be drastically unfair. I think most people would think if you join a pension service on certain terms then your provider should not be the one trying to get out of it – especially when you know they used some of your money to prop up failing banks that they allowed to act like drunken arseholes with your money, whilst you worked your nads off to support your family through the crisis they created. You might think that and you’d be right too. But your government doesn’t see it that way. Not only is it doing this to fire fighters, it’s doing it to the police and teachers too. If you don’t think it’s a problem, why don’t you apply this line of thought to your own life. Try renegotiating your contract with your mobile phone provider. Tell them you don’t fancy paying the full rate any more. Even tell the government you don’t like your council tax band and you’re going to move down a few – see what happens. One rule for you buddy - it’s quite another for them. Let’s forget all the scare mongering and hyperbole. It’s simply morally abhorrent to take money from employees to fund a pension, on the promise of a certain payout at the end, then change it so drastically before they get it. You could change it for new entrants. It wouldn’t be a good idea if you want a good fire service, but it would be morally more defensible. You cannot morally do this to anyone who has joined on the basis of the current pension. Oh and a few points for anyone still against the fire fighters:- Yeah some of them have 4 day on / 4 days off patterns and they get second jobs – they work a full week in those 4 days so you get your money’s worth. Unless they spend the other 4 days as an arsonist, It’s not your business what they do in their days off. However no one is stopping you from taking a second job either. They get paid a good wage – sure they do, but that’s an argument to raise your wages, not to destroy their pension. Don’t be so bloody British about it i.e. petty, small minded and jealous. I have to work until 60 – you may have to, but imagine a fire fighter dragging around heavy hoses and running up stairs in an oxygen tank. How long you think that oxygen will last if the guy breathing it is 58? They should stay fit – big talk from one of the most obese populations in the world. I did their training during the last strike, as an emergency trained fire fighter with the RAF. There were guys in the RAF in their 40′s on the same course as me who sucked in oxygen at such a rate their tanks ran out far too quick to save your life in a fast fire. And another thing, do you really think the government expects to have 60 year old fire fighters? No of course it doesn’t. It knows that what’s more likely is that the current set will get annoyed and demoralised. They know some of them will fail the fitness test and that a good number will simply leave before they get to 55. It’s the same strategy they’ve employed with the police. They hope to stop people from joining the services for life, just so they don’t have to pay good pensions. Their chosen employee is a young 25 year old, who joins for a few years, gains some experience then uses it to get a better job. Believe me, the actions of the government will save money. There’s no doubt about that. The problem is that it’ll be at the expense of expertise, ability, safety, capability, and essentially all of the qualities that you’ll expect from the person who comes to save you from your fire, investigate your crime, or teach your children. If you want good public services, you’ve got to pay for them, and you’ve got to be fair with their pensions. If you don’t support them, you won’t have a leg to stand on when the government comes for your money and your pensions. Hatersgonnahate
  • Score: -10

6:56pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Hatersgonnahate says...

Why the firefighters matter.

Some 60 year olds could keep themselves fit and pass the fitness test – of course they could. We never said they couldn’t do it. I ask you to picture a 58 year old running around with an air tank on their back, whilst dragging heavy hoses. I would agree that there are 60 years olds that could do even that, you may even know them. But I’d hazard a guess that most 60 year olds couldn’t. And for the sake of a reasonable debate; don’t reference the fitness levels of 72 year olds you know – some people know pilots that have been in space, it doesn’t mean that everyone is capable of being an astronaut. (33% of fire fighters are estimated to fail the test – which will be the older staff which means the government will steal a bigger slice of their pension pot)

Retiring on £19000 a year is a good pension – yes it is, which is why we joined it, paid our contributions and looked forward to getting it. However £19000 is the maximum we can get, if joining at 20 and working for 40 years. We won’t settle this without an honest debate, so use an honest number.

Stop using the ‘saving persons from a burning building analogy it’s their job’ – really…? If we saved you and your family from your burning building, you’d wipe yourself down say ‘well, don’t expect thanks from me – you were just doing your job’.
Well, yes we were, but it’s a kind of special job don’t you think? And it demands decent pay. Imagine the job advert in your world: “Fire Fighter’s needed. Duties occasionally include entering burning buildings, cutting people out of cars in hostile conditions and fire prevention. Salary: from just above bread line to crap, dependant on experience”.

The economic situation is all Labour’s fault – that’s a bigger argument, but I don’t really care. Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem, the representatives of the supposedly Great British Public promised those fire fighters those pensions in exchange for work and contributions. They gave the work and the money, now give them the pensions you promised.

I’d love to get such a high pension – WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU BECOME A FIRE FIGHTER THEN?!?!? this is the only argument that simply fills me with utter rage. Each and every one of those fire fighters had to apply for those jobs. If you wanted that pension, or their wages, why didn’t you get the job yourself? Or any one of the other public sector jobs that have a good pension attached? The fact that you have a terrible pension is not an argument to reduce somebody else’s. As I said before it’s the very worst characteristics of being British – the petty small minded, jealous mind-set that just can’t stand to see someone else do better. And don’t forget one of the reasons they have a better pension than you is because they pay more into it than you do.

I understand that we’ve got to cut costs and it’s got to be quick and radical, but it’s got to be fair.

It’s not fair to say to those soldiers, go to Afghanistan and protect the country, but you might be made redundant in a few years, and we don’t have any harriers to protect you with, or even an aircraft carrier to launch them from.

It’s not fair to say to a nurse, tend my wounds, dodge the angry drunk in A&E, clean the corridors and solve MRSA and take the blame for every mis-step caused by stupid government targets, but don’t expect the pay rise we promised you next year.

It’s not fair to say to teachers, put up with threats from pupils and parents, get our school into the top of the exam league tables, meet our targets and take the blame for not spotting child abuse, but don’t expect the pension we promised.

What I do support is the concept of fairness.

Fair is a word that has become increasingly warped over the years in the UK. So let me bend it back into shape. If you pay for something, you should get it. There should be no question about it. You could change the pension scheme for new entrants, that would be fair. You could reduce the salary scales for new entrants too, that would be fair. You could hold a referendum asking if the public would be prepared to have poorer public services in exchange for a drop in taxes, that would also be fair.

What is not fair, is promising a certain pension and wage, in exchange for performing their duties at a very high level of competence, and then when they do so, refuse to give them the pension and wage that was promised.

That’s why I support the fire fighters, and all the public services and in fact anyone screwed out of their pension in the public OR private sectors. They’re just asking for what you promised them. Not a penny more, nor a penny less. They did their bit, now you do yours. Don’t dip out on your commitments just because it’s convenient. Because if you abandon your commitment to fairness, then you won’t be able to argue when the government treats you unfairly.
Why the firefighters matter. Some 60 year olds could keep themselves fit and pass the fitness test – of course they could. We never said they couldn’t do it. I ask you to picture a 58 year old running around with an air tank on their back, whilst dragging heavy hoses. I would agree that there are 60 years olds that could do even that, you may even know them. But I’d hazard a guess that most 60 year olds couldn’t. And for the sake of a reasonable debate; don’t reference the fitness levels of 72 year olds you know – some people know pilots that have been in space, it doesn’t mean that everyone is capable of being an astronaut. (33% of fire fighters are estimated to fail the test – which will be the older staff which means the government will steal a bigger slice of their pension pot) Retiring on £19000 a year is a good pension – yes it is, which is why we joined it, paid our contributions and looked forward to getting it. However £19000 is the maximum we can get, if joining at 20 and working for 40 years. We won’t settle this without an honest debate, so use an honest number. Stop using the ‘saving persons from a burning building analogy it’s their job’ – really…? If we saved you and your family from your burning building, you’d wipe yourself down say ‘well, don’t expect thanks from me – you were just doing your job’. Well, yes we were, but it’s a kind of special job don’t you think? And it demands decent pay. Imagine the job advert in your world: “Fire Fighter’s needed. Duties occasionally include entering burning buildings, cutting people out of cars in hostile conditions and fire prevention. Salary: from just above bread line to crap, dependant on experience”. The economic situation is all Labour’s fault – that’s a bigger argument, but I don’t really care. Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem, the representatives of the supposedly Great British Public promised those fire fighters those pensions in exchange for work and contributions. They gave the work and the money, now give them the pensions you promised. I’d love to get such a high pension – WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU BECOME A FIRE FIGHTER THEN?!?!? this is the only argument that simply fills me with utter rage. Each and every one of those fire fighters had to apply for those jobs. If you wanted that pension, or their wages, why didn’t you get the job yourself? Or any one of the other public sector jobs that have a good pension attached? The fact that you have a terrible pension is not an argument to reduce somebody else’s. As I said before it’s the very worst characteristics of being British – the petty small minded, jealous mind-set that just can’t stand to see someone else do better. And don’t forget one of the reasons they have a better pension than you is because they pay more into it than you do. I understand that we’ve got to cut costs and it’s got to be quick and radical, but it’s got to be fair. It’s not fair to say to those soldiers, go to Afghanistan and protect the country, but you might be made redundant in a few years, and we don’t have any harriers to protect you with, or even an aircraft carrier to launch them from. It’s not fair to say to a nurse, tend my wounds, dodge the angry drunk in A&E, clean the corridors and solve MRSA and take the blame for every mis-step caused by stupid government targets, but don’t expect the pay rise we promised you next year. It’s not fair to say to teachers, put up with threats from pupils and parents, get our school into the top of the exam league tables, meet our targets and take the blame for not spotting child abuse, but don’t expect the pension we promised. What I do support is the concept of fairness. Fair is a word that has become increasingly warped over the years in the UK. So let me bend it back into shape. If you pay for something, you should get it. There should be no question about it. You could change the pension scheme for new entrants, that would be fair. You could reduce the salary scales for new entrants too, that would be fair. You could hold a referendum asking if the public would be prepared to have poorer public services in exchange for a drop in taxes, that would also be fair. What is not fair, is promising a certain pension and wage, in exchange for performing their duties at a very high level of competence, and then when they do so, refuse to give them the pension and wage that was promised. That’s why I support the fire fighters, and all the public services and in fact anyone screwed out of their pension in the public OR private sectors. They’re just asking for what you promised them. Not a penny more, nor a penny less. They did their bit, now you do yours. Don’t dip out on your commitments just because it’s convenient. Because if you abandon your commitment to fairness, then you won’t be able to argue when the government treats you unfairly. Hatersgonnahate
  • Score: -9

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