Harrogate Socialists visited the picket line at the local fire station today to show solidarity with firefighters who are taking their third consecutive day of strike action against government attacks on their pensions.
Harrogate fire station is located in the High Harrogate ward. Paul Viney, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for the ward, spoke with striking Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members.
Pickets reported that the strike was solid in Harrogate and that they were determined to fight back against the government‘s pension robbery. One firefighter stated that “our existing agreements are being ripped up and I will have to pay £4000 a year in pension contributions. Also, if I take retirement after the age of 55, I will lose almost half of my pension under the government’s proposals”.
An additional concern to firefighters in Harrogate is the forthcoming “review” by the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS). The “review” will assess the number and location of fire engines and stations in North Yorkshire, as well as staffing. Owen Hayward, head of risk management at NYFRS, has stated that “we need to find some savings from the front line now”. Among the options being considered by the NYFRS are having less fire engines on stand-by for emergencies, fewer fire stations and the increased use of part-time firefighters.
For more background on the FBU strikes, see the following article from the Socialist newspaper: