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Firefighters strike during Saturday's Taunton Carnival
1:00pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS could be missing from Saturday’s Taunton Carnival procession for the first time in years as they will be taking part in a five-hour national strike.
Fire Brigades Union members are walking out at 6.30pm – their second strike in recent weeks - shortly before the start of the annual parade, meaning it is unlikely there will be anyone to man the two engines booked to appear near the head of the event.
Trevor French, FBU secretary for Devon and Somerset, said: “We’re aware of the carnival and, unfortunately, I can’t see any way we’d be able to take part.
“We have no option because of the Government’s stance – they’re asking firefighters to work an extra five years until they are 60, and then they could be sacked if they don’t maintain their fitness levels.”
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer Lee Howell said: “Fire and rescue services have contingency plans and ours will again be put into place ahead of this date for industrial action.
“Our plans worked well during the first period of action, but we are asking the public to help us again by taking extra care. We will continue to respond to 999 calls and do everything we can to keep the public safe.”
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has branded the strike action “unconstructive and unnecessary”, adding that the firefighters’ pension scheme is “one of the most generous in the public sector” and the new retirement age matches the police and Armed Forces.
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