Harrogate firefighters confirm 24-hour strike over ‘false pension guarentee’

Firefighters battle the blaze on Albert Street. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403181AM14)

Firefighters battle the blaze on Albert Street. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403181AM14)

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Firefighters in Harrogate will stage a 24-hour strike on February 25 after accusing the government of ‘falsely guaranteeing’ to protect pensions.

The 2015 firefighters’ pension scheme legislation was voted through by MPs in December after Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt guaranteed to protect firefighters over 55 who failed a fitness test ‘through no fault of their own’.

This guarantee that firefighters would receive a full, unreduced pension or a redeployed role, was subsequently confirmed by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

However, North Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union’s Brigade Chair, Simon Wall, accused the minister of ‘misleading’ MPs after a number of fire authorities said they would not hold up the guarantee.

He said: “MPs have raised concerns at Prime Minister’s Questions that they have been misled and we believe we will receive a hugely reduced pension if we fail a fitness test.

“We want to get back round the table and to be offered the same deal as Wales and Scotland. We are desperate to get a national fitness policy framework because we have not had one in 13 years and, at the moment, we are forced to make it up as we go along.”

However, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government insisted that firefighters who fail the fitness test through no fault of their own would be awarded an unreduced pension and those that do strike would ‘lose pay and damage the reputation of the service’.