Firefighters in England will strike for 24 hours from 7am on 25 February in a long running dispute with the government over its unworkable pension plans.
This latest period of strike action comes after the 2015 firefighters’ pension scheme legislation was voted through by MPs when Westminster fire minister Penny Mordaunt gave a guarantee that firefighters aged 55 who failed a fitness test through no fault of their own would receive a full, unreduced pension or a redeployed role.
This guarantee was subsequently confirmed by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government.
However when the FBU wrote to all fire authorities asking if they would implement this parliamentary guarantee, the responses from the national employers and a number of authorities clearly stated that they would not.
In fact, London Fire Brigade confirmed that they had legal advice which showed why they could not implement the guarantee. This supported the FBU position that any guarantee would need a regulation change. They also confirmed that they had informed the minister of this before she gave the guarantee.
Despite this the minister used the promise of a guarantee to influence the Parliamentary vote knowing full well that the assurance was worthless.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “It is clear that when Penny Mordaunt gave the guarantee in Parliament she would have been aware that no fire authority ever planned to implement the ‘guarantee’.
“In order to win the vote to pass the flawed firefighters pension regulations Penny Mordaunt misled firefighters and Parliament.
“The minister is still writing to firefighters telling them they have the guarantee when she clearly knows that they do not.
“Firefighters are unbelievably angry with the disgraceful actions of this government.
“Since the debate where the guarantee was given, the FBU has written to Penny Mordaunt asking for an explanation and meeting to clear this up once and for all. The fire minister has simply ignored these requests and refused to meet the FBU in order to resolve this dispute.
“Firefighters still face the choice of either being sacked or receiving a severely reduced pension if they fail fitness tests as a result of naturally declining fitness through age. Exactly the opposite of what the minister told Parliament.”
Firefighters in Northern Ireland have lifted their trade dispute as the result of a revised and improved offer with a lower pension age.
Firefighters in Scotland will not be on strike as a result of genuine negotiations having delivered changes to the proposals facing firefighters.
Firefighters in Wales will not be on strike as a result of ongoing genuine negotiations and clear indications that they will improve the proposals facing firefighters.
The 24 hour strike will coincide with a rally and protest in Westminster, assembling from noon at Methodist Central Hall, Storeys Gate, London SW1 9NH.