Request from West Yorkshire Pensions Fund Administrators for Politeness

As a member of the pensions board for West Yorkshire Fire Service I have just been on a training course on pensions with West Yorkshire Pensions Fund who administer our pensions scheme. These are the people who calculate your pensions estimates. As with all public sector workers their workload has increased while their staffing has not. Please be polite and courteous if you have to contact and talk with them. They have encountered many aggressive angry scheme members. They did not cut your pension and are doing their best to help you.

Thanks
Paul Drinkwater (Chair)

Posted in Pension

The government’s controversial trade union bill will be coming back to the House of Commons next month, for the final Parliamentary stages before it becomes law. Can you help by writing to your MP now?

The TUC have set up a new online lobby your MP to apply pressure on MPs before the Trade Union Bill come back to the House of Commons after the Lords stage. 
 
They are asking people to let their MPs know that they will be watching carefully when the Bill returns to the commons. 
 
Please feel free to promote and share this link:
 
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Performance indicators presented to the Fire Authority in February show there is no longer a downward trend in our activity

There is no longer a downward trend in our performance indicators

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Warning over chronic staffing shortage in West Midlands Fire Service, as firefighters vote for industrial action

West Yorkshire Chairs Comment. “This is a stark warning which reflects a national picture of firefighters being asked to work longer hours on flat rates of pay”.

Firefighters in the West Midlands have voted to take industrial action in protest over plans that would lead to staff shortages and fire engines being unavailable for rescues. The results of the ballot mean staff will now participate in a ban on overtime shifts.

Moves by West Midlands Fire Service to replace the nationally agreed overtime pay rate of ‘time and a half’ with a flat rate salary will make the shifts less attractive, increasing the likelihood of staff shortages, say the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Andrew Scattergood, FBU brigade chair in the West Midlands, said: “Senior managers are putting the public at risk by imposing what is essentially a pay-cut for our firefighters. It will dis-incentivise our firefighters to work all the shifts needed in order to provide a first class fire service for the people of the West Midlands.

“This new salary system will mean scores of fire engines being left out of action at any one time because the service simply doesn’t have the manpower to staff them. Firefighters came into this job to serve the public. We don’t want to take industrial action but we cannot simply stand by and watch our life-saving service, that the public rely on, turn to a threadbare and fragmented mess.

“It’s as if managers are trying to grind down our firefighters at a time when morale is already so low. Over the past five years our firefighters have been on the receiving end of attacks on every aspect of their work. Frontline jobs, fire stations and engines have all been cut back, our pensions and working conditions have been attacked and now our pay is the next assault.”

The industrial action will begin from 9AM on Thursday 3 March 2016.

 
 

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Firefighters to ballot for industrial action in South Yorkshire over loss of vital control operator jobs

 

Holding fire helmet

Firefighters to ballot for industrial action in South Yorkshire over loss of vital control operator jobs 

Firefighters in South Yorkshire will be balloted for industrial action in protest over plans which include cutting a quarter of all emergency control operators within the fire and rescue service and changes to firefighters’ leave arrangements.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say that the senior managers at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue who were recently shamed into agreeing to pay back tens of thousands of pounds in overtime payments, have proposed the cuts without any meaningful consultation or negotiation.

Pete Smith, regional secretary of the FBU in Yorkshire, said:

“Fire chiefs have lost the trust and respect of their staff through these savage cuts to fire control, leaving us with no option but to ballot for industrial action.

“Emergency control staff are the very first people you’ll speak to when you’re in an emergency. Firefighters rely on them to get all the vital information to perform a rescue as fast and efficiently as possible. They are an invaluable component of the lifesaving service firefighters provide. The public in South Yorkshire will be put at greater risk if these posts are cut.

“The recent scandal of high ranking – and highly paid – chief fire officers choosing to accept tens of thousands of pounds in overtime payments shows the complete disconnect between senior managers and the people working on the frontline. Fire chiefs must learn that South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is not a dictatorship but a professional and valued public service.”

Firefighters were forced into an industrial dispute last December following changes to the way staffing schedules and leave are assigned, as well as failures of the service to comply with nationally agreed industrial relations protocol.

Pete Smith added:

“We have tried to resolve these issues locally by utilising the nationally agreed procedures in place but managers have dismissed them. It has left us little option but to lodge an industrial dispute with the Fire Authority.”

South Yorkshire fire authority chair Jim Andrews was given the option of averting a ballot by facilitating a meeting between the FBU and authority members but refused to do so.

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At present, there is no formal expectation for fire and rescue services to attend floods in England and Wales

During the devastating floods this winter across northern parts of the UK, firefighters worked around the clock saving lives, helping communities and providing humanitarian support. At the same time the service faces huge cuts to budgets, jobs, stations and fire appliances. Firefighters are now asking the public for their support.

The FBU argues that a statutory duty for firefighters to attend floods would help fire and rescue services, other emergency services and the government as a whole to plan effectively and reduce risk to life and property. Such a duty has already been adopted in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

As a result of government cuts, 7,000 firefighter posts have been lost in the UK since 2010, seriously undermining the fire and rescue service’s ability to deal with floods, fires and other incidents.

Firefighters have always rescued people during floods and will continue to do so but the service needs to be properly resourced, with sufficient staff to deal with more frequent flooding and the best equipment to deal with the hazards.

An increasing amount of time is spent by fire crews dealing with flooding  with an estimated 70% of England’s fire and rescue services involved in the aftermath of the UK floods of 2013 – 2014. During the floods firefighters in the UK attended over 7,000 incidents and performed over 2,000 rescues.

The FBU is campaigning for a statutory duty for firefighters in England and Wales to respond to flooding, like their counterparts in Scotland and N Ireland currently have.

Ask your MP to support a statutory duty for firefighters to respond to floods.

https://youtu.be/IvJW-ehIOuE

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West Yorkshire FRS Statistics Show Worrying Trends

Performance indicators presented to the Fire Authority show that arson, rescues and fire related injuries have shown significant increases. Projections show that the trend towards less total activity has now plateaued with only a drop from 22124 (average between 2012 and 2015) and a projected total by April 2016 of 22041. As further cuts are made to our resources the public will face delayed response times and we will be put at greater risk from arriving later (on average) our support crews being busier and further away or on call from home.

Paul Drinkwater (Chair FBU West Yorkshire)

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Pension payout for ’18-20 club’ firefighters

 

Pension payout for ’18-20 club’ firefighters

Many firefighters are set to receive thousands of pounds in compensation as the government admits members of the ’18-20 club’ were short changed and missing two years’ worth of pension contributions, following a successful legal challenge by the FBU.

The ’18-20 club’ describes a number of members who joined the 1992 Firefighters Pensions Scheme between the ages of 18-20 and ended up paying into the scheme for up to 32 years, only to receive a 30 year pension on retirement. This was because, unlike many other pension plans, the scheme had an accrual cap of 30 years.

Now those firefighters affected are set to be compensated after the Department for Communities and Local Government conceded defeat before the start of a test case hearing, which was due to begin 7 December 2015.

The concession means that serving firefighters who have accrued 30 years’ service will not have to pay any further pension contributions until they reach the age of 50 – a ‘contributions holiday’ if you will. It also means that firefighters who paid these additional contributions since 1 December 2006 and who have since retired will be paid back the contributions they made to their pension at age 48 and 49, plus interest.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is a huge victory for the union and for those firefighters who were denied up to two years’ worth of a pension they had made contributions on. As we approach Christmas I know this will be welcome news for many throughout the UK. None of this would have been possible without a strong trade union that fights for its members, this was a case brought solely by the FBU on behalf of its members.”

Posted in Pension

Government ‘absurd’ not to give firefighters formal responsibility for flooding response following Storm Desmond

Firefighters carrying water pump

Government ‘absurd’ not to give firefighters formal responsibility for flooding response following Storm Desmond

Fire and rescue services need to be given greater resources to tackle flooding emergencies in the wake of Storm Desmond, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said today.

Firefighters have been leading the rescue efforts in northern parts of the UK, where the storm has overwhelmed flood defences, despite their being no formal requirement for them to do so.

The union says that the government should guarantee more flood related resources for fire and rescue services and should make flood rescue a statutory duty of the fire and rescue service.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The Westminster government is not clear what it wants in relation to these major floods. Firefighters have been magnificent responding to this crisis, working all hours to make sure people are safe. They have worked above and beyond the call of duty. In addition to locally based firefighters, others have come from across the country to provide additional support and bring extra expertise and specialist equipment.

“However it is absurd that firefighters increasingly perform flood rescues with no formal arrangements in place. Ministers say that this is simply a matter for local determination. That is clearly an unsatisfactory answer when floods on this scale are clearly not a local issue.

“Without a statutory duty there are no guarantees that flood risks will be properly assessed and the necessary resources made available to firefighters to tackle the problem. A statutory duty on the fire and rescue service would play a part in ensuring greater preparation and co-operation between the emergency services and government.

“David Cameron promised there would be no limit to resources given to help battle floods. He should follow up his rhetoric with action and give the fire and rescue service this duty and then ensure fire and rescue services get the resources they need.”

Fire and rescue services from across the UK have sent resources and personnel to flood hit areas to cope with demand. In one 24 hour period over three thousand calls were taken by a 999 fire control room in the North West.

Firefighters are rescuing people from danger zones and bringing them to safe havens, pumping out water from flooded high streets and homes, advising people in distress from control centres and limiting damage to rural communities by rescuing livestock.

Ask your MP to support a statutory duty for firefighters to respond to floods.

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MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS

The FBU has negotiated a new benefit exclusively available to our members. This benefit entitles members of the Fire Brigades Union to exclusive discounts of up to 30% on brand new cars on a wide range of manufacturers from Motor Source Group. The Union has entered into an agreement to provide this opportunity to members who may be considering purchasing a new car. The benefit is available to all members including our out of trade members.

 

We hope that some of you will find this a welcome addition to your range of benefits.

On average customers have saved £3,575. Brands available include: –

Motor Source Group have agents that will guide members through all of the options available to you and assist with your enquiry through to the handover of your new car at a main franchise dealership. You will receive a fully certified handover from a qualified member of staff. Motor Source Group will even accept your old car as a part exchange vehicle. They also offer a wide range of finance options including Hire Purchase, Personal Contract Purchase and lease.

 

A charge of £195 is payable for the service but advisors will make you aware of this before you agree any purchase. You will not be charged any fee until you confirm your order.

Visit www.motorsourcegroup.com or phone 01522 5000 55 to make an enquiry.

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