Thousands of police staff including 999 call handlers and firefighters strike TODAY in row over pay on 'busiest night of the year'

  • Police staff in London will take action for 24 hours in a row over their pay
  • Firefighters will down tools for six hours from 6.30pm as millions celebrate
  • Heavy rain and gale-force winds will place added pressure on resources
  • Police staff are protesting against a below-inflation one per cent pay-rise

By Sam Webb

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New Year's Eve revellers could be at risk because thousands of police civilian staff - including 999 call handlers - will strike today to coincide with a fresh walkout by firefighters.

About 7,500 civilian police workers in London will take action for 24 hours in a row over pay while Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members in England and Wales will stop work for six hours from 6.30pm.

Police officers won't be striking because they are banned from taking strike action by law.

The industrial action will hit public services during one of the busiest nights of the year for the emergency services, while forecasted stormy weather could also have dire consequences for those celebrating the arrival of 2014.

Dampener: On top of the strikes, New Year's Eve revellers also face forecasted foul weather. File picture

New Year strike: Police civilian workers, including PCSOs and 999 call handlers, will join firefighters in a strike tonight. Police staff will strike for 24 hours while firefighters will strike for six hours from 6.30pm

Heavy rain and gale-force winds are expected to sweep across the UK today and this evening causing misery and travel chaos for New Year revellers.

It will be the eighth strike by the FBU since September in a bitter dispute over pensions and the retirement age.

 

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union called the London strike in protest at a below-inflation 1 per cent rise.

Police community support officers, 999 call handlers, detention officers in custody suites and a range of administration and professional support staff are among those who will take action.

Striking police civilian staff have set up pickets in protest. Speaking at the picket outside New Scotland Yard in central London, PCS president Richard Rooney, 44, described the issue as a 'crisis'.

Emergency: 999 call handlers will also strike today, a move which could put revellers at risk. File picture

Emergency: 999 call handlers will also strike today, a move which could put revellers at risk. File picture

'What we’re saying is a fair deal for all, we need a living wage. This is a living wage crisis,' he said.

'We’ve run out of negotiations at the moment. They say there’s no more money and we believe there is, and we also believe a pay freeze is totally unfair.

'Our members are the ones who are suffering and unfortunately once again those who are lowest paid pay the highest price.

“Our message is not just to our employer, who we’ve had good relations with over the years, it’s actually to Government.'

His colleague, Val Paris, 46, was also part of the group of around 20 protesters and said morale at the Metropolitan Police was 'very low'.

'People are just at the stage where we really are doing the job that we’ve done for years, we’re committed to Londoners, we’re committed to working for London, and we’re really just not getting any reward, no recognition of what we do. Management just seem to see police staff as nothing,' she said.

The Fire Brigades Union say firefighters are 'extremely angry over the prospect of being priced out of their pensions'. File picture

The Fire Brigades Union say firefighters are 'extremely angry over the prospect of being priced out of their pensions'. File picture

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'The PCS has now informed the MPS that they intend to take strike action on New Year's Eve - one of the days when demand for our services is highest.

'We have tried-and-tested business continuity plans for all eventualities, including industrial action.

'These ensure that critical functions performed by police staff are performed by police officers who are fully trained in those roles.

'To ensure we are able to implement these plans, we stopped granting any further requests for annual leave or days off for officers and staff in a number of key areas for New Year's Eve in mid-December.

'In some cases we've also had to take the very difficult decision to cancel planned days off for officers with certain critical skills or in critical operational areas.

'These are clearly all steps we'd rather not take but we have to be prepared to maintain critical operational areas in the event of a strike action by police staff, and we are confident that we have appropriate plans in place.'

A ferry crosses the Solent near Southsea sea front in Hampshire. Forecasters predict the stormy weather and heavy rains could last for a month

A ferry crosses the Solent near Southsea sea front in Hampshire. Forecasters predict the stormy weather and heavy rains could last for a month

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: 'Firefighters on duty over the festive period don't have much to celebrate this year and tomorrow's strike will remind the government of the service we provide 24 hour a day, 365 days a year, every year of our careers.

'Nobody wants these strikes but firefighters remain extremely angry over the prospect of being priced out of their pensions and facing the sack owing to the Government's ludicrous pretence that men and women of 60 can meet the same fitness standards as 20-year-olds.

'The Government at Westminster has acknowledged our concerns but not done anything to seriously address them.'

Deluge: An aerial view of the flooded fields over Gloucestershire and Worcestershire on Sunday, as Britain braces itself for more heavy rain

Deluge: An aerial view of the flooded fields over Gloucestershire and Worcestershire on Sunday, as Britain braces itself for more heavy rain

The union said the current storms and floods had highlighted the valuable and wide-ranging job firefighters do. A further strike is being held for two hours from 6.30am on Friday.

The Government said firefighters will still receive generous pensions and has criticised the strikes.

The Met Office said further heavy rain and gales are expected to herald the start of 2014.

Thousands of people across the UK are still recovering after storms last week caused widespread misery, with power cuts and flooding ruining Christmas for scores of families.

Forecasters say there is more bad weather to come, with the Met Office issuing a severe weather warning for rain on New Year’s Day, affecting southern England and western Scotland.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Think people need to realise that emergency services aren't striking for an increase in wages they're striking because the government takes 40% of money that they pay into their pension if they're declared 'unfit' for their work, its see the governments money grabbing schemes by putting in difficult fitness tests and raising retirement age to 65 so that can take their 40% cut when they declare them unfit which is almost inevitable if your fighting fires at the age of 60. Emergency services put their lives on the line, they don't want big bankers bonuses on top of their salaries they just want the money that they have paid in, and given the work these people do I think it's only right that they are given it.

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PCSO's. Waste of money. Nobody noticed they were on strike . Recruit proper police officers with proper powers !!!

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New Year's Eve - the greatest night to cause trouble and get totally wasted ... good time to strike. Sorry folks but people should be more responsible. Aren't you tires and grossed out at seeing people falling in the gutters and puking ???

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What did they hope to achieve, by choosing new years eve? I doubt they got much sympathy. If they want the public behind them they need to stop kowtowing to the unions!

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Who can blame them when you see what a certain Banker got for almost nothing,in three months "Work"

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And yes SACK the MP's as well absolutely usless WORMS

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These OVERPAID PARASITES are an EMBARRISMENT to the UK Sack the lot NOW

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You wouldnt even notice they were gone

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I'd sack them all....

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Good luck when your house is burgled or burns down...

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Just a coincidence?

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