VIDEO: Firefighters go on four-hour strike at fire stations across Tower Hamlets
PUBLISHED: 20:31 25 September 2013 | UPDATED: 10:10 26 September 2013
Firefighters stood on picket lines today as a dispute over pensions saw no sign of ending.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (LFB) carried out a nationwide stoppage from midday to 4pm with crews at all stations in Tower Hamlets taking part.
Members of the public showed their support by tooting their horns and waving as they drove past while fire cover across London was left to a contingency service of 27 pumps who responded to 84 calls in four hours, none in the borough.
The dispute between the government and the LFB centres on the increased retirement age of firefighters from 55 to 60, it also comes on the back of cuts to the fire service in London under Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Whitechapel crew manager Damian Magee, a firefighter of 16 years, said: “We are fighting for our contracts and conditions of service in the same way I would fight for anyone else’s.
“All I want to do is come to work. I want to work with a professional, well resourced crew that are happy and morale is high.
“I don’t want to worry about losing my fire engine, stations closing, losing parts of the service and on top of that about the government robbing my pension.”
It was the first time in more than a decade that nationwide industrial action had been taken.
Union representatives have warned more strikes could be on the cards unless negotiations with the government resume.
Whitechapel crew manager Carl Magnus said: “I think it’s going to get ugly and I think no-one wins, but it’s the only way to get our voice heard. We don’t have anything else.”
Sympathy for the strike came from the leaders of other national unions, including Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady.
He said there were many reasons why the government shouldn’t be “pressing ahead with these unfair and ill-thought out changes”.
He added: “Being able to save people from burning buildings or rescue them from the scene of a multiple vehicle pile-up requires not just bravery, but a good deal of physical strength too.”