Members of the Fire Brigades Union on the Isle of Wight will join their national colleagues in strike action on Wednesday.
The industrial action, being held between 12pm and 4pm, is in a dispute over pension reforms.
Steve Allen, Chair of the FBU Southern Region, which covers the Isle of Wight, told IW Radio:
The Fire Brigades Union on the Isle of Wight and all over the country will be taking strike action in support of the fight for a fair, sustainable and achievable pension. The current proposals that the government have put in front of us fall short of supplying an occupational pension scheme. An occupational pension scheme means that when you come to the end of your working life, you can access a pension and it meets the needs and the risks involved with your occupation. At the moment, the government’s offer threatens to leave thousands of firefighters thrown out of a job later on in their career because they can’t meet a fitness standard. The reason for this is because they have extended our working life by five years from 55 to 60. They’ve failed to actually deal with the fact that people’s fitness levels start to drastically reduce around the age of 55. This has been an historical retirement figure for people in the fire service because it’s been shown to be that people’s fitness levels fall away quite rapidly in their mid-50s.
But Steve said that members have no other option but to take strike action:
Firefighters on the Island did not want to go out on strike, the Fire Brigades Union nationally does not want to go on strike. The government are the ones who have walked away from this negotiating table. It’s the government who have put an offer on the table which is wholly inadequate and they have painted us into a corner where we have got no other option. They say they are not going to listen to us anymore, and this is our only recourse of action and it is totally regrettable.
The Isle of Wight Council said it had contingency plans in place to deal with the strike, and is reassuring Islanders that crews will still respond to life-critical incidents.
In a statement, it said:
Fire cover will be maintained on the Island by non-FBU members who will attend life-critical incidents such as house fires or road traffic incidents. Fire control will not be affected by the strike and will be operating as normal – people should continue to dial 999 in an emergency.
The fire and rescue service will work in partnership with the other emergency services and partner agencies to respond to incidents. Each call will be assessed by the fire and rescue service and resources will be deployed as appropriate. Priority will be given to calls where lives are at risk, so in some cases, such as animal rescues or people trapped in lifts, resources may not be available to be deployed.
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