Retained fire staff 'won't be striking'
RETAINED firefighters in Gower and Llanelli will not be observing next week's nationwide strike, a union official has said.
Adrian Hughes, retained Firefighters Union (RFU) national officer for Wales, said the 14-strong Reynoldston crew and self rostering Llanelli crew were among those not downing tools on September 25 during a four-hour strike over pensions and dismissal fears.
The RFU move has drawn scathing criticism from the larger Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Mr Hughes, watch manager at Reynoldston, said the RFU had a clause in its constitution preventing its members from taking strike action.
He said: "This station (Reynoldston) will be responding as normal during the industrial action."
He added: "We have a degree of sympathy for the principals of the FBU. It's not nice to have pension payments reduced, and to work for a little bit longer."
But he said most other public sector employees were undergoing similar changes.
He added: "Strike action is failure of both parties."
An angry Barrie Davies, FBU brigade secretary for Mid and West Wales, claimed the RFU accepted all the gains won by the FBU without taking part in the fight.
He said the FBU had 840 members out of a uniformed workforce of 1,150 in the service's Mid and West Wales area, and that two FBU members who are retained firefighters based at Llanelli will be observing next Wednesday's strike.
Mr Davies said firefighters already paid very high pension contributions and that members were alarmed by a letter by Fire Minister Brandon Lewis which said they "will be referred to HR" if there is no medical reason for persistently failing to achieve minimum fitness levels.
But Mr Hughes said the letter also said no-one will be sacked just for failing a fitness test, and that fitness training will be provided.
Minister Mr Lewis said the pension on offer to firefighters was "one of the most generous public service pensions available".