UPDATED CIRCULAR RE INDUSTRIAL ACTION TO DEFEND PENSIONS
Members will be aware that throughout the campaign to defend decent pensions in the Fire Service, on most occasions when strike action has been called, Buckinghamshire FRS has refused to accept partial performance and in effect locked the Buckingham members out for prolonged periods.
I have once again been informed by the local officials in Buckinghamshire that the authority will not accept partial performance during the period of strike action due to start at 0700 on 25 February 2015, for those members on shift duty stations (2,2,4).
This will leave the people of Buckinghamshire, once again, without the protection of professional firefighters for up to an additional 15 hours compared with the rest of England.
These Buckinghamshire members will be effectively locked out from 18.00hrs on the 24th February 2015 until 07.00hrs on the 25th February 2015 and from 07.00hrs on the 26th February 2015 until 09.00hrs on the 26th February 2015.
Local officials have tried through discussion with management to reach an agreement which could have avoided this situation but management were unwilling to reach agreement.
I would remind all members that up until 0700 on 25 February and from 0700 on 26 February that action short of strike remains in place, including the instruction that;
During periods of strike action being taken by FBU members, FBU members in a non-striking Fire and Rescue Service should not cross borders to work in a Fire and Rescue Service where FBU members are taking strike action or in a Fire and Rescue Service where the employer is not recognising partial performance.
As always it is hoped that the action we are taking will make politicians understand that we will continue to fight to defend decent pensions and cause them to make further concessions.
I would take this opportunity to congratulate all members for maintaining a united union and showing great determination in the struggle against this coalition government and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the rally in London tomorrow. For those of you who are unable to attend it is important that you support your local picket lines and get our message to as many of the public as possible.
Firefighters have demanded that the prime minister David Cameron and speaker of the house John Bercow take action over the way that MPs were misled by a government minister in a Parliamentary debate on firefighter pensions.
Ministers informed MPs in the House of Commons, prior to a vote on the 2015 firefighters’ pension scheme, that any firefighter over age 55 who failed a fitness test through no fault of their own, would receive a full, unreduced pension.
The ‘guarantee’, initially welcomed by firefighters, turned out to be totally worthless as both fire authorities and the national employers of the Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that they could not guarantee this position. Worse still the biggest employer in England, the London Fire Brigade, confirmed that they had actually advised the government of this before the debate.
In a letter to the prime minister Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, reiterated that firefighters are committed to resolving the dispute through negotiations but that the false ‘guarantee’ is “a clear case of Parliament being misled by your government.”
Wrack goes on to say: “This has been the pattern throughout negotiations with DCLG in regard to the firefighter pension scheme and a key reason why firefighters in England remain extremely angry at the failure of the government to take proper account of the evidence available.
“This has now become a matter not simply of policy but of trust and confidence in the Parliamentary procedure and your stewardship.”
The FBU has also written to all members of parliament as well as the speaker of the house asking what they intend to do knowing that Parliament was misled.
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.
Firefighters will walk out from 7am.
In this video Matt Wrack FBU general secretary updates members about the ongoing pensions campaign, detailing the responses from the fire service employers to the fire ministers parliamentary ‘guarantee’.
Read circular here
If you have any questions about the scheme send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
John Durkin former Brigade Chair and Union Learning Representative has retired after 30 years service. The Brigade Committee would like to express our appreciation for John’s hard work and commitment to the FBU and the wider labour movement. Without volunteers like John the FBU could not function. Thank you.