Public sector workforce poised for strike action

Firemen on the picket line
Firemen on the picket line
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FIREFIGHTERS and school support staff are among public sector workers preparing for fresh wave of strike action in disputes over pay and pensions.

Leaders of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) confirmed its members would stage a walk-out during the first May Bank Holiday weekend as a long-running dispute with the Government continues to show little sign of reaching a resolution.

Firefighters in England and Wales will walk out for five hours from noon on May 2, between 2pm and 2am on May 3 and between 10am and 3pm on May 5.

There will also be a ban on voluntary overtime across England and Wales from 3pm on May 4 until noon on May 9.

In Scotland there will be a ban on voluntary overtime between noon on May 2 and noon on May 9.

The action is the latest in a series of strikes held in protest at plans for a later retirement age and changes to pensions.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes account the unique occupation of firefighting, the Government is still burying its head in the sand.”

Meanwhile, more than half a million council workers and school support staff are to be balloted for strikes after they rejected a one per cent pay offer. Unison confirmed 600,000 local government and school members in England will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.

The move followed a consultative ballot which showed 70 per cent of Unison members opposed a pay offer the union said was worth a below-inflation one per cent for most workers. Employees covered by the offer include teaching assistants, administrators, social workers and engineers.

Schools across England and Wales are also facing disruption from a teachers’ strike in June. This week the National Union of Teachers’ conference voted in favour of industrial action as part of a campaign over teachers’ pay and workload.