Lancashire fire crews to strike in pay and pensions row

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Lancashire firefighters planning a four-hour strike next week have assured the public: “We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t have to.”

The majority of crews on duty across the county next Wednesday will walk out at noon, man picket lines and return to their posts at 4pm in protest at Government changes to their jobs and pensions.

A Fire Brigades Union (FBU) ballot for industrial action received backing from 78 per cent of members in England and Wales.

And officials say the half-day walkout is a “warning shot” aimed at showing the Coalition the strength of feeling amongst firefighters.

“Our members are quite upset about the Government’s proposals for the fire service and despondent about the position we have been put in,” said Lancashire FBU secretary Steve Harman.

“We won’t just sit down and accept what they are doing to our jobs and our pensions. There is far too much at stake here because it is one attack after another.

“I can’t stress enough that firefighters desperately don’t want to take action. We have all been trying to avoid this, but it is a last resort.”

The FBU has pledged that members will break the strike in the event of a major emergency. Minor incidents will be dealt with by a skeleton staff of officers who have vowed not to strike.

Lancashire’s chief fire officer, Chris Kenny, said: “This is not a dispute between Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and our firefighters.

“We have a significant number of staff who have given a commitment to maintain emergency cover and the public can be reassured the majority of fire engines in Lancashire will be operational.”