by Tim Lezard Firefighters in England are to take a further 24-hour strike a week today (December 9th) over pensions. After almost three years of discussions firefighters still face a stark choice of either being sacked or a severely reduced pension if …
Firefighters in England are to take a further 24-hour strike a week today (December 9th) over pensions.
After almost three years of discussions firefighters still face a stark choice of either being sacked or a severely reduced pension if they fail fitness tests as a result of naturally declining fitness through age.
The evidence presented by the FBU has created considerable political opposition to proposals for firefighter pensions – even from within the Westminster coalition. The FBU has gathered cross party support from MPs in Westminster who have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 454) opposing the draft regulations. The EDM is the procedural mechanism by which the government proposals can be challenged at this stage. This support for firefighters includes a number of Liberal Democrats.
Despite this the government have made no attempts to address the concerns within Parliament and are still pressing ahead with forcing through the regulations. They have so far refused to hold a full debate on the issue despite widespread concern among MPs.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters in England are reluctantly calling further strike action as a direct result of the Westminster government’s failure to listen and negotiate over pensions.
“Firefighters are asking the Westminster government to immediately open genuine negotiations to resolve this dispute. They should also hold a House of Commons debate to fully scrutinise the legislation and there should be a parliamentary vote on the regulations.
“We need to be clear. We are not going to give up or go away. Firefighters will fight for however long it takes to secure a fair pensions deal – this dispute will not end as long as the regulations remain unchanged.”
Firefighters in Northern Ireland have lifted their trade dispute as the result of a revised and improved offer with a lower pension age.
Firefighters in Scotland and Wales will be taking other forms of industrial action but will also not be on strike as a result of genuine negotiations have delivered changes to the proposals facing firefighters.
Matt Wrack said: “It is sickening that the only part of the UK where the fire minister refuses to engage in genuine negotiations is England. We cannot accept that firefighters in England will be penalised simply because the Westminster government refuses to consider the evidence or even read its own reports on the risks to firefighter fitness related to ageing. We have won the argument on this issue for the past three years. We face a government which refuses to negotiate or even to listen to reason. Therefore this fight will carry on.”
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