June 29, 2011 / 6:13 AM / in 8 years

Firefighters "will quit over pension reform"

LONDON (Reuters) - Almost a half of all firefighters will consider quitting the service if the government goes ahead with its plans to reform public sector pensions, their union said on Wednesday.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said a YouGov poll it had commissioned found that 45 percent of firefighters would leave in the future if the changes go ahead.

The government says pensions need to be reformed as people are living longer. It wants public sector employees to work longer, for better-paid public staff to contribute more and for salaries to be based on a career average rather than final salaries.

The FBU said it would mean firefighters’ contribution rates would increase from 11 to 14 percent and to 17 percent for officers. It said their poll showed 62 percent of staff would not seek promotion if the proposals are implemented.

“Half the fire service say they might quit a job they have dedicated their lives to,” FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said.

“This is not going to be a sudden mass exodus from the service. It is more likely to be a draining away of highly trained and experienced talent from all levels of the service.”

The survey of almost 8,000 FBU members also found that 97 percent opposed the proposal to raise their pension age to 60 and 91 percent objected to the plans to increase contributions.

Reporting by Michael Holden

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