FBU members embark on 24-hour strike in long-running pensions’ dispute with the government

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, FBU, UK unions, Pensions

FBU marchFirefighters across England are today on strike in the latest action of their long-running dispute with the government over pensions.

While many FBU members are on picket duty outside their stations, a number are heading to Westminster to protest against the false ‘guarantee’ given to MP’s as part of a Parliamentary debate into firefighter pensions.

The union has already written to David Cameron and the speaker of the house asking them what they are going to do about government misleading Parliament.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters are justifiably angry with how this government is treating them. MPs, the public and firefighters were completely misled and given a false guarantee in order to pass the legislation. This is wrong.

“Firefighters will be protesting in Parliament to make their voices heard. They will be asking David Cameron what he is going to do to ensure his government delivers its guarantee. We will not accept these lies. If they can lie to firefighters they can lie to anyone and everyone.”

The government repeatedly gave assurances to Parliament that a firefighter, over the age of 55, who failed a fitness test through no fault of their own would receive a full, unreduced pension or a redeployed role. This influenced the vote and the legislation was passed.

But fire authorities and the Fire and Rescue Service national employers have confirmed there is no such guarantee.

Matt Wrack said: “Government ministers have ignored three written requests in the last few weeks by the union to meet to try to resolve this dispute.

“Government ministers are quick to call this union ‘militant’ and yet it’s them who still refuse to talk to us when we remain ready to meet and negotiate at any time.

The strike is confined to England because:

The Scottish government have significantly improved its earlier pension offer to take account of a concern that firefighters are being unfairly penalised if they retire at age 55.

The Welsh government have recently followed suit and also improved its offer in this way.

In Northern Ireland, legislation has been agreed that firefighters should be able to retire with an unreduced pension from age 55 instead of the 60 that has been imposed elsewhere.

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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