Fire strikes on Christmas Eve and NYE

By Connie Osborne Thursday 19 December 2013 Updated: 25/12 01:43

FIREFIGHTERS across Worcestershire and Warwickshire are set to strike on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced hundreds of firefighters from Hereford and Worcester and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service could walk out for a total of 11 hours over the two dates.

The strikes are expected to take place between 7pm and midnight on Tuesday (December 24) and between 6.30pm on Tuesday (December 31) and 12.30am on Wednesday (January 1).

A further two hour walk out could go ahead between 6.30am and 8.30am on Friday (January 3).

The industrial action comes after a previous six strikes over the past few months following a row with the Government over pensions.

From April 2014 it would rise for the third year in a row to over £340 a month with many facing a fourth consecutive rise of 2.2 per cent in 2015. The Government also want crews to work until they are 60 before they are eligible to receive their pensions.

All members of the union in England and Wales will stop work apart from those in control centres.

On top of this, from 7pm on Friday (December 27) and 5pm on Sunday (December 29) they will also refuse to work voluntary overtime. On Christmas Eve, those working at control centres will also do the same.

It comes after a second ballot by members who voted by almost nine to one for additional industrial action on top of strikes.

FBU General Secretary, Matt Wrack, said: "The Government must stop claiming they are negotiating when they have refused to talk for two months and insist on forcing through proposals that are unaffordable, unworkable and unfair.

"By simply conceding common sense and allowing firefighters a fair deal, the government could end this industrial action today."

A spokeswoman for HWFRS said it had a statutory duty to plan for industrial action in order to maintain the service and a robust Business Continuity Plan had been put in place to deal with it.

Although 'appropriate fire cover' will be provided across the counties, a reduced number of firefighters means there is likely to be a basic service and calls will be prioritised on their urgency.

Jon Pryce, area commander and head of operations for HWFRS, said they will be responding to 999 calls but residents needed to take extra steps to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out.

"We realise that people may be concerned about strike action being called over the Christmas and New Year period and whilst we wouldn’t want to deter festive celebrations we would ask people to take some simple steps to keep themselves and their families safe."

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