Firefighters take step towards strike action over pensions

by - 17th May 2013, 7.13 BST

Decent-pensions-no-to-Mass--150x150Firefighters have taken a further step towards a national strike over changes to their pensions.

Although delegates to the FBU’s annual conference did not vote to call a strike ballot immediately, they agreed to put a seven point plan to ministers and seek further talks.

General secretary Matt Wrack said: “We still hope to avoid industrial action but we are determined to defend our pension rights. Genuine talks are still a real option and the ball is now firmly in government’s court to sort out the mess they have got themselves into.”

Matt Wrack will take a seven point plan to ministers.

He will ask for:

  • No further contribution increases.
  • An improved contribution ratio between employer and employee.
  • Improved protection arrangements for current members of the pension scheme.
  • Removing the threat of a firefighter losing out on a pension if there is no job for him or her.
  • A flexible retirement from age 55.
  • Improved lump sum arrangements.
  • A realistic cost ceiling.

Matt Wrack told the conference: “Government proposals are unfair and unjust.  The pension rights and responsibilities we signed up to are being taken away. Our members have paid their share but the government wants to take them away.”

He said the proposal to raise the retirement age from 55 to 60 “is completely unworkable and the government know it. It does not take into account the physical demands of firefighting.  The government’s own report demonstrates that a very high proportion of firefighters would not be able to reach the proposed pension age. Instead they would face the prospect of being dismissed on grounds of capability. That is completely unjust and is not good public policy.”

The resolution says that the FBU “will remain ready to engage in genuine negotiations around the concerns we have raised, and is willing to meet ministers at any point with the aim of achieving improvements.”