‘I joined picket line’ says March fire commander, refuting earlier claims by fire service that pickets were not local
- Credit: Archant
The crew commander at March fire station has confirmed he joined today’s picket line protest outside his station – refuting earlier claims by Cambs fire service that no local crew members were involved.
Ady Bradshaw, 47, says he was part of the picket line outside the station this morning. However the station has remained largely unaffected, staffed as normal by on-call firefighters.
He said: “I’m a March crew commander who has been there for 20 years and I was on the picket line.
“We’re striking for our pensions. They want us to work longer to help pay off the country’s deficit.
“We’re not asking for a penny more. We just want them to honour the contract we signed up for.”
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Cameron Matthews, Fire Brigades Union Cambridgeshire secretary, confirmed Mr Bradshaw was in the picket line.
He said a delegation had tried to speak to MP Steve Barclay but he was away from his office. However, the NE Cambs MP has agreed to discuss their concerns later this week.
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Mr Matthews said: “This dispute has been going on for three years. The government have changed the retirement age from 55 to 60. There is a fitness test they have but 66 per cent of people between 55 and 60 would not be able to achieve the fitness standards.
“That would likely be the end of their career. They would be sacked or lose half their pension. Firefighters in Scotland, Ireland and Wales are not on strike because their governments have tweaked their proposals. It’s only the English firefighters who are in this position.
“Do members of the public expect 60 year olds to come and save them?”
The wife of one March fire fighter had earlier insisted that “our guys are going out as normal in fact they’ve already been out this morning to a crash near Chatteris.”
The distance setting theme was continued by a spokesman for Cambridgeshire fire service who also phoned to say the pickets outside March station were not local.
The spokesman explained she had been contacted by firefighters based at March fire station who are very keen to stress that they are not March firefighters on the picket line.
“They are very keen to tell the community that it is not them and they do not support industrial action,” said the spokesman.
Cambs fire was uncertain where the firefighters came from – one told our photographer that had come over from Huntingdon. Other callers suggested they were from Kings Lynn or Wisbech.
The pickets, carrying banners from the Fire Brigades Union, walked across the Wisbech Road, March to tackle MP Steve Barclay at his office.
The four day strike by the FBU ends at 6pm tonight.