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.