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

RDS Pension Victory

The Fire Brigades Union has this week heralded victory in the fight for access to fairer pensions for retained firefighters in England — but warned the campaign against government attacks continues.

Retained, or part-time firefighters who worked between 1 July 2000 to 5 April 2006 will from 1 April be able retrospectively to access a similar pension to whole-time colleagues.

In 2008 the courts ruled that retained firefighters had been discriminated against under regulations relating to the less favourable treatment of part-time workers after a lengthy court battle.

Since then negotiations have taken place solely between the FBU and DCLG to enable RDS firefighters to get what they are entitled to. As part of these negotiations the FBU have also achieved a method of repayment that should make it easier for those who wish to join.

However, because the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) dragged its feet in implementing a decision, the issue became one of eight points in the FBU’s long running dispute over pensions.

After six years of campaigning by the FBU, the government has now relented and made moves to enact the ruling.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is a victory for firefighters and the FBU particularly, who campaigned alone for fair pensions for retained members.

“Our union is the expert voice on firefighter pensions and our members will now be able to access professional advice on the details of the scheme and the advantages of joining.

“But the campaign to defend the pensions of retained and whole-time firefighters continues, and firefighters across the UK are united in our determination to ensure a workable, fair and affordable scheme for everyone.”

Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) now have until 1 April 2015 to identify eligible individuals and explain how they can join the scheme.

The union said that although the change applied to England specifically, it expected the same process to be followed by devolved government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Posted in Uncategorized

Matt Wrack’s Response To Contribution Increases

Government green lights third successive annual pension contribution hike despite firefighters’ “serious concerns”

The Department for Communities and Local Government has said that it will raise the amount Firefighters must pay towards their pensions from 1 April 2014 despite the concerns raised by the Fire Brigades Union during the recent consultation. The same increases have also been announced in Scotland, and similar announcements from Wales and Northern Ireland appear imminent.

Responding, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Since their time in office, this government’s attacks on pensions and the fire and rescue service as a whole have been relentless, and yet again they have refused to listen to the concerns of Firefighters.  “Firefighters are proud to work tirelessly for their communities, but the government’s response is to make their pensions unaffordable and jeopardise their retirement.  “Surely now it’s time to draw a line in the sand and say no more attacks on our pensions and no more cuts to our service.”

Posted in Pension