Amy Gilligan spoke to Cameron Matthews, FBU Cambridgeshire Brigade Secretary on the picket lines at Cambridge fire station about the strike and supporting victimised FBU member Ashley Brown.
Eight days of rolling strikes by firefighters began yesterday. Over the last year, FBU members have been taking strike action over attacks on pensions which could see firefighters losing huge amounts of their pension merely for losing fitness towards the age of 60.
The FBU have linked up their fight with the wider anti-austerity struggle. They had a visible presence on the People’s Assembly demo on the 21st June and took strike action last Thursday (10th July) alongside over a million other public sector workers.
Ewan Nicholson spoke to FBU members at Horesham fire station in Sussex, about the reasons they are striking and about the situation locally. The mood was positive despite concerns over whether their demands would be successful. Firefighters said coordination between the different unions in town was strong, and that they had been getting a good response from the public over the strike. They felt the issue that was most important to them was the changes to the pension rules that would mean firefighters who were over 55 would have to pass fitness tests, that if they failed, would mean a loss of 47% of their pension entitlement. The FBU members at Horesham felt this would be particularly difficult for older firefighters who don’t have the time to prepare for these changes.