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.