FIREFIGHTERS in the town are the latest to join hundreds of other public sector workers in a one-day strike next week.

Yesterday the Fire Brigades Union announced that firefighters in services across England and Wales would join the strike on July 10 as part of a series of disputes with the Government over pay and other issues.

More than a million council staff, health workers, teachers and civil servants from across the country are expected to take industrial action on the same date.

The FBU in particular has been in an ongoing row over pensions stretching into last year, over proposals to increase the contributions firefighters make to their pensions, which the union says could cost £4,000 a year.

Brent Thorley, the south west FBU secretary, said: “Our main concern is over pensions, but the day of the strike does coincide with that of many other public workers who are planning to take industrial action on July 10.

“It’s disappointing. Obviously, if negotiations were going well with the Government we would not be announcing industrial action, so it is a bit of a Mexican stand-off.

“I think in Northern Ireland they are approaching a deal and in Scotland they are not striking because they are nearing an acceptable deal.

“It just seems like the Government in England and Wales, the Government in Westminster, is very reluctant to negotiate a fair deal with us.”

The FBU also objects to raising the retirement age to 60, making tough physical tests harder to pass.

On top of that it objects to proposals which could see firefighters who do not pass the tests being sacked and unable to claim their pension until they reach the national retirement age of 67.

The FBU strike will take place between 10am and 7pm and will be the 15th in the firefighters’ campaign. The union is expected to announce further action later this week.

The general secretary of the FBU, Matt Wrack, said: “The FBU has wanted to settle our dispute for a long time, but the Government at Westminster is simply not listening.

“We are therefore proud to take strike action alongside our colleagues in other unions on July 10.

“The fact that this Government has united so many workers to take strike action against them is a testament to the failure of their policies.

“They are destroying our public services and wrecking the lives of millions.

“If they won't listen and won’t negotiate, then this is the result and they should face more of the same if necessary.”

Other workers who have already announced that will take part in the strike on July 10 include civil servants in the Public and Commercial Services Union, council and school support workers in the GMB and Unison, and members of the National Union Of Teachers.