Responding to Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to fight the government all the way over the proposed Trades Union Bill, Wrack said: “It is heartening to hear that the new leader of the Labour party is 100% behind repealing this appalling legislation. His comments about how this government champion deregulation in every area except the trade union movement will resonate with trade union members all over the country. Corbyn is very good news for firefighters and other public sector workers whose unions are fighting hard to protect their right to strike.
“Corbyn’s vision of lawyers and police trawling through bits of paper to find out who said what about their employer is exactly what we at the FBU fear if the Bill gets through. We are very glad to have the new Labour leader on our side, battling against this terrible, direct attack on the rights of ordinary working people.”
You may have noticed that an email has been put onto the Firespace homepage by Area Manager Butters in relation to the grievance appeal Andy Imrie won for leave lost to sickness.
His victory means that members will be able to claim their leave back from 2009 if it has been removed unlawfully.
If this affects you could you Cc the Brigade Secretary (using his works email address David.Williams…………) into the email sent to Carole Grimwood or Jaqui Bradley in order that we can monitor the situation.
Finally from us, can you please make everyone is aware of this massive victory and what they should do next and make sure it’s discussed around the mess table.
Yours in unity,
WYFBU Brigade Committee
‘Leave Policy Amendments
Over recent years European legislation has been issued in relation to how much leave can be reimbursed to individuals following a period of sickness absence. These legislative changes resulted in changes to our own Grey book leave policy. These changes were made on the understanding that European legislation took precedence over previous collective agreements that existed in relation to leave.
During investigations triggered by a recent grievance appeal hearing brought by Ff Andy Imrie it was determined that this is not the case and the changes to the leave policy should not have been made without further collective agreement from the representative bodies.
In order to rectify this we are now asking that anyone who feels that they may have been adversely affected by this from April 2009 onwards (specifically in relation to how the reimbursement of leave lost to sickness was calculated) get in touch with the Human Resources department by email detailing the dates of sickness and leave lost (please email either Carole Grimwood or Jacqui Bradley). Leave reimbursement will then be re-calculated based on the 2009 Leave policy (the one that was in existence prior to the changes triggered by the European legislation). For clarity we have put the 2009 Leave policy back on to Firespace. Any reimbursed leave will be added onto individual’s current leave entitlement and arrangements will be put in place to allow leave to be carried over into the next leave year if individuals cannot take all the leave in the current year.
We are also aware that this may have affected personnel who have subsequently retired and we will be getting in touch with those staff to rectify this situation.
Some individuals will be aware that there were collective agreement signatures on the revised leave policies from the managers and officials of the representative bodies that were in place in 2009. This was an administrative error in leaving these signatures on from the original policy. No subsequent collective agreement was reached and as mentioned above the changes made were in the belief that the European legislation was definitive and no further agreement was required or necessary, therefore the signatures should have been removed at that point as they were not party to the further changes.
I would like to formally apologise to those that this adversely affected and we will endeavour to rectify this issue as quickly as possible.
Senior HR Manager’
A fantastic local victory today by the former WYFBU Chair Andy Imrie means some of our members could benefit from thousands of pounds each.
Please see attached letter from the Brigade Secretary
Dear West Yorkshire FBU members,
The Brigade Committee members have received numerous enquiries regarding the “Efficiency Research Programme” (cuts) presentations.
The Brigade Committee meeting on 6th July was the first opportunity that we had to discuss the presentation and your initial responses. Because the presentation is just an overview of possible future changes it is impossible for us to put together a comprehensive response which will be done once we have full details of any proposals from management.
Our primary concern remains protection of your Grey Book terms and conditions of service, your health and safety and the service to the public.
Please be aware that WYFRS’s Community Risk Management Strategy has stated that “Employee wages continue to be the main source of expenditure to the organisation and therefore efficiency savings need to focus upon reducing these costs.” Please think very carefully about your responses when revised shift patterns are being suggested which represent comprehensive cuts to hourly rates of pay.
We can assure you that we will engage fully with yourselves and management once formal consultation has started.
Yours on behalf of West Yorkshire FBU Committee
If you read Mark’s link you will see what it says about tax relief.
In relation to uniform;
Uniforms include ‘recognisable uniforms’ eg a fireproof coat and ‘company branded uniforms’ eg a polo shirt and/or fleece displaying the name of the company. Provided that your employer does not provide on-site facilities to wash your uniform, you are entitled to claim a uniform washing allowance
This was a campaign ran by the Union some years ago and a lot of members (and non members) benefitted from a revised tax code and a rebate, you may be entitled to an allowance, but be aware if there is a washing machine at your station you may not.
NOW, SEE WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT UNION SUBSCRIPTIONS
There are thousands of unions/professional bodies in the UK that qualify for tax relief, provided they are approved by the tax office and form part of their ‘List 3’.
If you go to that webpage
you will see that none of the Unions recognized by WYFRS are on the list, therefore it is safe to say that union subscriptions for us (working in WYFRS) are not deductible at this time.
Yours in unity
The Fire Brigades Union are urging members to take part in a survey identifying issues of age discrimination in fire and rescue service pensions as part of a legal challenge that the union has made against the government.
An all members circular has been issued explaining how to fill in the survey.
The survey will be available on this website from Monday 13 July.
Under new arrangements introduced on 1 April, firefighters are expected to ride fire engines, run with heavy fire hoses and carry people out of burning buildings until they are 60. If they are incapable due to the natural decline of fitness with age, they have to take a reduced pension.
The legal challenge is tackling what the government is calling pension ‘protection’ arrangements, which they say aim to protect firefighters affected by these new pension plans. The ‘protection’ was put in place to cover older workers. They are not being forced out of the pensions they joined and into the new, worse, pension scheme. The FBU say it is utterly unfair, inadequate and discriminatory not to provide the same protection to younger firefighters. Approximately 13000 firefighters stand to lose out.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have been trying to negotiate adequate protection for firefighters similar to that which was given to them when the last scheme was introduced in 2006. Sadly, the government has refused to honour the pension arrangements which people signed up to on joining the fire and rescue service. This is disgraceful.
“The government has also ripped up previous agreements and it is leaving those who cannot maintain operational fitness with a stark choice – to leave on a severely reduced pension or face the sack. We are not going to go away and we will explore every possible avenue to try to achieve a workable pension scheme for firefighters.”
The FBU has collected fifty test cases to support its legal challenge, and expects to issue tribunal proceedings on behalf of all of the members who do not have protection in the near future.
In total, approximately five million public sector workers are set to lose out under the new ageist pension rules.
Equivalent to a quarter of all frontline staff the cuts are the largest ever proposed in any one year in the UK fire and rescue service.
Essex Country Fire and Rescue have also introduced a new shift system which has forced many of the control staff, with child caring responsibilities, to either job share or leave the service all together.
The Fire Brigades Union believes these cuts will put the public of Essex at risk.
In this video Riccardo la Torre and Emma Polley, chair and control representative for the FBU in Essex respectively, give a first hand account of the situation in Essex.
18th June 2015
In May the FBU Annual Conference endorsed the position that the FBU campaign against the pension attack must continue. There is no doubt that the general election result was a huge setback in relation to the potential discussions that had been lined up should Labour have formed the new government. This meant that the situation had to be reassessed to take account of this.
New Fire Minister
The union has made contact with the new DCLG Fire Minister, Mark Francois, requesting an urgent meeting. These arrangements are now being made. We hope that this discussion will enable us to set out the union’s concerns – particularly the fact that key areas were unresolved under the last Westminster government. Members will receive a report following this meeting.
In addition to this we are continuing to press issues around the no job no pension guarantee that was set out by the previous DCLG Fire Minister in December 2014.Work also continues to raise our concerns in the National Joint Council (NJC) Joint Working Party looking at fitness issues relating to the firefighter role. Annual Conference made some very important decisions in relation to occupational fitness standards and the union is now following up on this work. This will include further detailed discussions with Firefit regarding the fitness requirements for essential elements of the firefighter’s role. This work unsurprisingly supports many of the concerns raised by the FBU (as did the government’s own ‘Williams’ review). We will continue to gather evidence to support our concerns that the imposed NPA makes the scheme unworkable.
Scheme governance problems
The Public Service Pension Act 2014 (and related legislation) includes a requirement to set up local pension boards and a national Scheme Advisory Board in all parts of the UK. This legislation was quite clear in relation to when these boards should be established, how they should function and how they should be made up.
In the majority of cases we believe the legislation has not been applied correctly.
We have been raising significant concerns with the way that these boards are being established. These concerns include:
In Northern Ireland and Scotland our discussions around the boards have been quite productive and many of our concerns have been addressed. These discussions are continuing. Elsewhere our concerns have not been addressed. This further threatens to undermine confidence in the pension scheme at a time when many scheme members are already outraged at earlier attacks on pension rights.
In some cases significant decisions have been made although the local boards have not yet been established (and therefore have not been able to meet to discuss the issues). These have been challenged as soon as they have emerged.
The FBU has raised concerns in relation to this nationally and locally and a letter is being prepared to raise these concerns at local level.
These are extremely important issues which, if necessary, will be progressed to the pension regulator.
The Executive Council meets on 16, 17 & 18 June and these issues will be discussed further. Further reports will follow.