A DECISION to refuse to pay Bucks firefighters to work the hours around their strike has been labelled “provocative and unnecessary” by one of the Fire Brigade Unions leading campaigners.
A national strike had been planned from 12pm until 5pm allowing firefighters to continue in their jobs from 9am until 12pm and from 5pm until 6pm.
However, Bucks Fire and Rescue are the only authority in the UK to decide, because of the number of strikes in recent times, they will refuse to accept partial performance.
Matt Wrack, National General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, joined firefighters at High Wycombe station as they protested against changes to their pension schemes.
Mr Wrack, a former firefighter of 22 years, said: “It (Bucks Fire and Rescue’s decision) is unique across the country it is provocative and unnecessary.
“The people of Buckinghamshire have been let down by their actions. No firefighter wants to be on strike but they know what is being said is completely unjust. People here could be very much affected by these pension plans.”
The 51-year-old added: “Pension changes have been set which we think are totally unreasonable.
“The pension sees firefighters pay more money each year - about £4,000 out, on salaries of about less that £29,000 - they have to stay on for longer and they get less out of it.”
Strategies outlined from the service in December say it is recommended that the authority adopts the position of not accepting partial performance from any member of staff participating in lawful industrial action.
Also joining firefighters at Wycombe Station was Jason Thelwell, Bucks Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Fire Officer.
He said: “The authority has legal right not to accept partial performance. What that means is if someone takes strike action on any given day you may not accept them working before or after.
“This is our tenth strike in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, it is worth pointing out that the local tax payer bears the cost for all the resilience arrangements in place for these national strikes.”
He added: “All I would like to see is our firefighters back at work, they do a fantastic job in the community every single day, they save lives, our staff our absolutely fantastic every single day.”
Earlier a firefighter phoned the Bucks Free Press anonymously claiming he and his colleagues had been locked out, despite wanting to work.
Another firefighter protesting against plans also said the brigade feel let down by the changes which would see firefighters working until they are 60.
The firefighters who also preferred not to give his name said: “As people get older fitness levels drop, the decision to work longer could have a serious effect.
“It could put the public as well as colleagues at risk.”
The campaigners appeared to get a good support from people driving past them, with many shouting support and beeping their horns whilst driving past.
One of the firefighters said: “We are so thankful to all of the public who showed their support for us today, it proves people are on our side.”
Strikes planned throughout the county are scheduled for the rest of the weekend.