firefighters from Burnham-On-Sea and Bridgwater joined a huge
rally in Westminster on Wednesday (February 25th)
to protest about changes to their pension scheme.
The rally of over 2,000 people was organised by the Fire Brigades
Union (FBU) to coincide with a 24-hour strike across England,
which also saw the service cut in Burnham-On-Sea.
The FBU says changes to pensions and the retirement age are "unworkable".
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said
the strike was "unnecessary" and contingency plans were
in place to deal with emergencies.
Local fireman Pete Nicholson told Burnham-on-Sea.com: "20
firefighters from Burnham and Bridgwater travelled up by coach
to be a part of the Westminster rally - there are some strong
feelings about the pensions and we wanted to join in."
FBU has accused fire minister Penny Mordaunt of misleading Parliament.
In a recent debate she told MPs that if a firefighter loses fitness
through no fault of their own they should get another role or
a full, unreduced pension.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said that firefighters signed
up to a pension deal that is being ripped up.
He said: "They are not getting the pension they were promised.
The pension changes take no account of the real job that they
do, that's physically demanding. And they are paying huge amounts
for it, over £4,000 a year on a salary of less than £29,000
"That's one of the most expensive schemes in the public
or private sector for a scheme that doesn't even promise they'll
get paid anything in the end."
The FBU says firefighters have been on strike over 50 times since
September 2013. The last strike action was in December.