Industrial Action

By now we are sure you are all aware of the recent announcement of strike action.
The 4 days of strike will run from 18:00 on Friday 31st October until 18:00 on Tuesday 4th November.

It is extremely disappointing that we again find ourselves in this position, after the hard work of the FBU negotiating team and indeed the patience of all our FBU members over the past couple of months.

Please continue to keep yourselves up to date with developments, keep in contact with your local FBU officials, attend meetings and demonstrations and it is vital that all members continue to show their strength and unity on the picket lines.

Bradford division are holding an 
All Members Meeting, on Monday 3rd November at:

Bradford Resource Centre
17-21 Chapel Street,
Little Germany,
Bradford.
(Entrance on the cobbles, just down from Peckover St)

The meeting will start at 19:00
(Following the Divisional Branch Reps Meeting at 18:00)

Agenda:
Pensions Campaign Update
ASOS, Young Firefighters, MTFA
Any Other Business.

Posted in Industrial Action, Pension

Pension Latest – Outrage!

Executive Council interim statement – 23 October 2014

This statement is issued to update FBU members on the latest discussions with Penny Mordaunt, DCLG Fire Minister.
The Executive Council is still in session and will be discussing our next steps this afternoon. The outcome of these considerations will be issued as soon as possible.

No revised proposals from DCLG – Pension theft continues!

The FBU has consistently opposed government attacks on firefighter pensions. We have presented large quantities of professional evidence to demonstrate that the government proposals do not take account of the real operational demands of the firefighter’s occupation and the standards which are required as a result. Despite this opposition we have attempted to negotiate in good faith and have taken up every opportunity to make our case and to seek changes to the government’s proposed and unworkable scheme.

Following strike action in August a meeting with the DCLG fire minister, Penny Mordaunt, appeared to open the possibility for movement on a number of key issues.

The Minister acknowledged to FBU negotiators that some firefighters may not be able to remain operational until the normal pension age of 60. This was the first time a DCLG minister had acknowledged this fact in any meeting during the past three years of talks.

The Minister, at a subsequent meeting, informed FBU negotiators that she would be able to deliver a pension regulation which would protect firefighters from the threat of capability dismissals arising from an age related decline in fitness after age 55. The FBU has been arguing for this improvement for many months as a mechanism to address one of our concerns. This approach had previously been completely rejected by DCLG ministers.

As part of this process, FBU negotiators were asked to provide draft wordings for a regulation and to make arrangements for lawyers from each side to discuss the detail of the proposal and how it might fit within wider pension regulations.

In a further signal that these concerns were apparently being taken seriously, the Minister also asked to meet representatives of women firefighters through the FBU National Women’s Committee. This meeting took place and two national FBU women officials (both operational firefighters) set out very clearly the key concerns of all firefighters (men and women) regarding fitness standards and ageing. In addition they set out the further risks to women firefighters  

The Minister agreed to reconsider and re-examine other key issues which had also previously been ruled out. This included the issue of transitional protection for members of the 1992 scheme. She acknowledged the anger of firefighters on this issue and agreed to look again at whether improvements could be made. Again, this was the first time in many months a minister had even been willing to discuss this issue.

The Minister and her team confirmed that they were seriously considering the issue of revised actuarial reductions which might benefit all pension scheme members seeking to retire before the age of 60. This has been a key aim for the FBU throughout our campaign as we have never accepted that firefighters in large numbers will be able to work operationally until 60 or beyond.

The Minister repeatedly delayed the laying of pension regulations, so as to allow discussions, legal consideration and internal government dialogue to conclude.
FBU negotiators have always conducted negotiations honestly and in good faith. Despite reservations, the Executive Council felt it was essential to follow up the offer of further dialogue on these key issues. The Executive Council is clear the role of our negotiators is to explore any and every possibility of improvement in relation to the current attacks on our members’ pensions. To do anything else would be a serious failing of responsibility to our members.
In addition to the assurances given to FBU negotiators, the DCLG fire minister assured firefighters in face to face meetings and in various open letters that she was seeking to deliver “the best deal possible for firefighters and to resolve this dispute.” (Open letter to Firefighters 22 August 2014.) In view of the fact the Brandon Lewis had previously stated that he simply intended to proceed with the existing proposals, Penny Mordaunt’s statement could only be interpreted as an indication that she was now willing to consider alternatives to the proposals Brandon Lewis had announced.

 

Meeting with DCLG 22 October:

After numerous delays a meeting was scheduled for yesterday (22 October) to hear the outcome of these various strands of work and the considerations within government. However, despite all the assurances given about seeking to deliver the “best deal possible for firefighters,” the Minister informed FBU negotiators that there would be no revision of government proposals on any of the issues discussed. The “best possible deal” was to be exactly the same as that set out months ago by Brandon Lewis. She informed the FBU that she would proceed with the laying of pension regulations.

The Minister stated that she was keen to address the concerns of the FBU and of firefighters regarding fitness and capability and intended to do this by means of a public consultation over an addition/amendment to the national framework. She and her team claimed that this would provide the assurances that firefighters were seeking on this issue.
FBU members will be well aware that this particular issue has been discussed before – and at great length. The FBU and our legal advisors have exposed very clearly and rigorously that the claims of DCLG on this issue are entirely hollow. Advice, guidance or instruction issued under the National Framework will not provide the protection we seek for our members facing a decline in fitness due to age and the risk of capability dismissal which arises from this.

Firefighters will be utterly outraged at the outcome of this meeting. It is unclear what precisely has happened over the past four weeks within government or exactly who in government has taken the key decisions. However, what is clear is that this government as a whole does not have the slightest concern for the wellbeing of firefighters or for the future of our fire and rescue service.
All the nice words in open letters or made on visits to fire stations cannot avoid the fact that this government is robbing firefighters – and other workers – of their pension rights. It always was – and it remains – an utter outrage. Executive Council additional statement – 23 October 2014

 
Alternative proposals for Wales

Firefighter pensions are a devolved matter. This has meant that the FBU negotiators have held discussions with the four governments covering all parts of the UK. Our members in England and Wales have been taking strike action as a result of the refusal of the relevant governments to present any alternative proposals for consideration by members.

Over the past few weeks, alongside our discussions with officials of DCLG, discussions have continued with officials of the other governments. This afternoon the General Secretary received communication from the Welsh government. This confirms that the fire minister in Wales (Minister for Public Services) is now making preparations to consult on an alternative pension scheme design which would take account of a number of technical arguments which the FBU has raised during negotiations. These are arguments which have so far been rejected by DCLG in relation to the English proposals.

The Executive Council has only just received this communication and has not yet had the opportunity to assess the impact or the implications for the proposed pension scheme in Wales. However, it appears likely to be of some significance for large numbers of FBU members.
The changed position in Wales will need to be considered in relation to the lack of any revised proposals from DCLG.

Next steps:

The Executive Council has extended its meeting and remains in session. A further report will follow the conclusion of the meeting tomorrow.
The Executive Council is now considering the next political, legal and industrial steps in our campaign.

 

 

 

Posted in Pension

PENSION DISPUTE

 Latest: Meetings with DCLG Fire Minister

FBU members will be aware that a meeting took place with Penny Mordaunt, DCLG Fire Minister, on Friday 22 August.  The details of this meeting were subsequently reported to and discussed at the Executive Council on 26 August. At that meeting, and in subsequent communication, the Minister stated that she was considering various aspects of the proposed pension changes.  She set out that she wished to meet during the week commencing 8 September.  She also agreed to meet again before then to further consider issues raised by the union.  On that basis, the Executive Council agreed not to set strike dates, to attend the meetings suggested and to consider the outcome of these discussions before proceeding.

FBU officials met Penny Mordaunt and her team on Monday of this week (1 September). At this meeting, she confirmed that she was giving consideration to all the issues raised; that her officials were examining the options which might be available around concerns raised by the union; and that she was due to discuss these issues with others within government before the week commencing 8 September.  She repeated that she wished to meet the union again following these discussions in order to inform us as to the outcome of her consideration and the discussion within government.

A discussion followed, during which officials set out the concerns of the FBU in relation to the possible start of the Parliamentary procedure to introduce the regulations for the 2015 proposed pension scheme. Clearly, the Executive Council – along with FBU members more widely – would be concerned that this period could simply be used as a delaying mechanism in order to immediately lay the regulations before Parliament. Following this exchange, the Minister has written to the union confirming that she will not take these steps to lay the regulations until after Parliament returns in October (13 October).

The Executive Council considered the report from these meetings along with the letter received from the Minister. The Executive Council agreed that the written confirmation stating that there would be a delay in any steps to lay the regulations was a positive step and should be acknowledged as such. It does not in any way guarantee that alternative proposals on pensions will emerge, but it is a clear shift in relation to the previous timetable that we were aware of.  On this basis, the Executive Council agreed not to call strike action, but to follow these discussions through.

Meeting with FBU women officials:

Penny Mordaunt had asked specific questions of the union in relation to the impact of the pension proposals on women firefighters and had asked to meet with officials of the FBU National Women’s Committee. This meeting took place today (3 September) with national officer Sean Starbuck also in attendance.  You will be aware that there is a huge amount of evidence regarding the fitness of firefighters.  It is this evidence that has raised concerns about the impact of ageing on firefighters, particularly in relation to maintaining operational levels of fitness.  It is this issue that has prompted our concerns about the threat of capability dismissals (No Job No Pension).  We need to be clear that this issue threatens all firefighters – men and women – but does disproportionally threaten women members.

Our women officials were very clear that they were making a case about fitness of firefighters and the appalling impact of the overall attacks on our pensions.  Within this, they also spelt out the specific issues affecting women firefighters.  It was of particular value that the Minister was able to hear this case directly from two operational firefighters facing these attacks on pensions directly and personally.  On behalf of the Executive Council, I would like to thank the NWC officials for their assistance in this discussion, which can have left Penny Mordaunt in no doubt about the issues and the level of anger felt on the front line of the fire and rescue service and among women in particular.

Next steps:

Arrangements are now being put in place to meet Penny Mordaunt again during the week of 8 September. The Executive Council will reconvene shortly afterwards. Further information and updates will follow as soon as possible. I would like to thank FBU members again for the determination and solidarity shown.  We hope that progress can finally be made at our next meeting, but otherwise we need to stand ready continue our campaign for a just settlement for firefighter pensions.

Posted in Uncategorized

Survey on Terms & Conditions

All members need to be aware that the DCLG survey that is going out, does not have the approval of the FBU and the advice from the EC is that members should not participate in the survey!

The All Members Circular below explains more:

DCLG Fire Minister launches another attack on your conditions of service!

FBU members have already been alerted to the so-called ‘Independent Review of Firefighter Conditions of Service’ announced recently by DCLG Fire Minister, Penny Mordaunt. The Executive Council discussed this review at its last meeting and these discussions will continue.

It was already clear from reports from across the country that many FBU members have very significant concerns about the review, its aims and timing. These concerns are well-founded and the Executive Council, while not deciding any final position in relation to the review, believes it is important to alert FBU members to some of the risks which it involves.

· The review is not independent: Despite claims by Penny Mordaunt and by Adrian Thomas (who will lead the review) himself, this ‘review’ cannot be claimed to be independent in any meaningful sense. The Terms of Reference have been set by DCLG. The staff for the review team are provided by DCLG. There has been no dialogue or consultation with any of the parties actually involved in the Fire and Rescue Service (employees or employers).

· DCLG Ministers have already ignored a key report which they commissioned: The previous DCLG Fire Minister, Bob Neill, agreed to commission a report (Williams report) into issues around pensions, Normal Pension Age and fitness. This was supposed to make recommendations on what the appropriate Normal Pension Age for firefighters should be. However, Government changed the Normal Pension Age before the report was published and have entirely ignored the findings of the report.

· Firefighters do not work for Central Government: Firefighters work for Fire and Rescue Services, not for Central Government. Terms and conditions are determined by the National Joint Council which is made up of representatives of employees (the FBU) and representatives of the employers. The DCLG decision to launch this review was taken without any consultation or dialogue with either employees or employers within the Service. This approach gives a powerful indication that we can expect the findings to have been determined already or to be determined solely by the agenda of DCLG.

· The review is clearly about your pay and pension rights: Penny Mordaunt claimed in her letter to firefighters of 7 August that the review “will not look at pay or pensions”. This claim is clearly contradicted by the Terms of Reference for the review and by any reading of Mr Thomas’ surveys. The Executive Council is clear that the review is an attack on national bargaining arrangements and a prelude to further attacks on pay and other conditions of service.

· The review is a response to our campaign to defend pensions: It is clear that the review is aimed at trying to provide further arguments for DCLG in their attack on firefighter pensions. The Terms of Reference refer to ensuring firefighters are able to work longer and to removing barriers between Grey and Green Books. This is an issue on which the FBU has had to fight a major legal battle in order to try to protect the pension rights of three London firefighters over ill-health retirement arrangements.

Surveys: of firefighters and employers

· The Executive Council was particularly concerned at the rushed attempt to survey firefighters and employers by Mr Thomas.

· The surveys were drawn up without any discussion with anyone within the Service – employers or employees.

· The surveys have been clearly drawn up without taking any advice from survey organisations. Nor are they conducted by an independent survey organisation.

· The questions have clearly been drawn up with a view to achieving a pre-determined outcome. They are completely lacking in detail and take no account of the specifics of work in the Fire and Rescue Service.

A number of Fire and Rescue Services have already circulated these surveys to staff. We are aware of other cases where Chief Fire Officers and local employers have expressed serious concern about the review, the Terms of Reference, the lack of consultation with the Fire and Rescue Service and the way in which these surveys have been drawn up and circulated.

We have already raised these concerns with the employers’ side of the NJC and will be discussing the issue with them further.
In view of the above, the Executive Council advises FBU members that these surveys pose significant risks for everybody working within our Service and for the future of pay, terms and conditions and pensions.
Members are therefore advised not to cooperate with these surveys or to complete or return them.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

DCLG ERROR

LETTER FROM DCLG FIRE MINISTER TO ALL FIREFIGHTERS IN ENGLAND

By now you will probably have seen a letter from Penny Mordaunt, the Fire Minister at DCLG, dated 31 July 2014, addressed to all Firefighters in England.  

This short All Members circular is sent to confirm that the comment made by the Minister,that the FBU have called off talks, is entirely inaccurate. The FBU had given notice of industrial action, as required by legislation, but were and indeed are, still due to meet with the Fire Minister on Thursday 7th August.

The FBU WILL be attending the meeting on Thursday with the Minister!

Posted in Uncategorized

Latest Industrial Action & ASOS

The dates and times below are for the latest periods of strike action and action short of strike!

Commencing 9th August 2014 from 12.00 hours until 9th August 2014 at 14.00 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 9th August 2014 from 14.00 hours until 9th August 2014 at 22.59 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 9th August 2014 from 22.59 hours until 9th August 2014 at 23.59 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 9th August 2014 from 23.59 hours until 10th August 2014 at 12.00 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.
 
Commencing 10th August 2014 from 12.00 hours until 10th August 2014 at 14.00 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 10th August 2014 from 14.00 hours until 10th August 2014 at 22.59 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 10th August 2014 from 22.59 hours until 10th August 2014 at 23.59 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 10th August 2014 from 23.59 hours until 11th August 2014 at 12.00 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 11th August 2014 from 12.00 hours until 11th August 2014 at 14.00 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 11th August 2014 from 14.00 hours until 11th August 2014 at 22.59 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 11th August 2014 from 22.59 hours until 11th August 2014 at 23.59 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 11th August 2014 from 23.59 hours until 12th August 2014 at 12.00 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 12th August 2014 from 12.00 hours until 12th August 2014 at 14.00 hrs – strike action.
 
Commencing 12th August 2014 from 14.00 hours until 12th August 2014 at 22.59 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 12th August 2014 from 22.59 hours until 12th August 2014 at 23.59 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 12th August 2014 from 23.59 hours until 13th August 2014 at 12.00 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 13th August 2014 from 12.00 hours until 13th August 2014 at 14.00 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 13th August 2014 from 14.00 hours until 13th August 2014 at 22.59 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 13th August 2014 from 22.59 hours until 13th August 2014 at 23.59 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 13th August 2014 from 23.59 hours until 14th August 2014 at 12.00 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 14th August 2014 from 12.00 hours until 14th August 2014 at 14.00 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 14th August 2014 from 14.00 hours until 14th August 2014 at 22.59 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 14h August 2014 from 22.59 hours until 14th August 2014 at 23.59 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 14th August 2014 from 23.59 hours until 15th August 2014 at 12.00 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Commencing 15th August 2014 from 12.00 hours until15th August 2014 at 14.00 hrs – strike action.

Commencing 15th August 2014 from 14.00 hours until 15th August 2014 at 22.59 hrs – industrial action short of a strike.

Posted in Industrial Action

Matt Wrack to visit Leeds and Wakefield

The FBU General Secretary, Matt Wrack, will be in Leeds on Saturday 3rd May, speaking at the Trades Council May Day Rally at Victoria Gardens in the city centre. The march and rally starts at 11:30am and many FBU members will be attending. Matt is then scheduled to visit the picket line at Leeds Fire Station on Kirkstall Road at 2pm.
Matt Wrack will then visit Wakefield Fire Station around 3:30pm to support and talk to members before returning to Leeds, where he will be at the Victoria, for informal discussions around 6pm. Members are encouraged to come along to the Trades Council rally and to attend any of the other venues in Leeds or Wakefield, to join the General Secretary in a peacful demonstration against the attack on our pensions. This is a great opportunity for you to speak to Matt Wrack and to show your continued support towards this challenging campaign.

Posted in Industrial Action, Pension

Industrial Action Information

Members should be aware that the FBU in West Yorkshire have made no agreement with WYFRS management regarding remaining on the fireground. This has been recently stated in an email to stations from management. Should an incident run on, into a period of strike action, FBU members should use their own judgement and decide if they wish to remain at an incident or take industrial at that time. Members would have the full support of the FBU when taking legal industrial action and walking off the fireground.

Posted in Industrial Action

Hull March & Demonstration, 29/3/14

The Fire Authority in Humberside recently voted to AXE one fire appliance from East Hull station and more worryingly voted to reduce the ridership on all appliances in Hull from 5  down to 4!

As a result of these dangerous cuts to the service, there will be a march and demonstration in Hull on Saturday 29th March. The march is assembling at 10am outside of East Hull Fire Station, Southcoates Lane, Hull, HU9 3TS .

Please come along and show your support to our Regional Comrades and join them in the demonstration!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

! URGENT ! Buying Back Your Pension Contributions During Strike Action

We understand that members in some fire and rescue services have been informed by their employer that they will not be given an opportunity to buy back their contributions until after the conclusion of the trade dispute and at that time, members must register their wish to do so within 6 months of that date.

Such advice given by a fire and rescue authority is inaccurate and may be based on a simple misreading of the regulations!

The accurate position is that members of the pension schemes will be entitled to buy back their lost service within six months of having returned to duty following any period of absence (other than in respect of maternity, paternity or adoption leave).

If you are wishing to buy back contributions for strike days, you need to apply within 6 months of returning to work from the date the action was taken. The first strike date was Wednesday 25th September 2013, so members taking action that day (White watch in West Yorks) only have 1 week left to apply.

Therefore, if you wish to buy back the pension for the periods of strike action taken, you are strongly advised to email or write to Employment Services expressing the desire to do so without delay!

Posted in Pension