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Welcome to the Frontpage
FBU Recall Conference PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rob Stone   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 18:28


TO:    ALL MEMBERS


Dear Brother/Sister

FBU RECALL CONFERENCE: PENSIONS FIGHT CONTINUES

Our recalled Conference met yesterday in Manchester to consider the continuing campaign over firefighter pensions. Delegates from every Brigade discussed and debated the campaign so far and the next steps required. This included honest reports about the range of views which exist among FBU members across the union. Conference faced the difficult task of identifying the way forward after such a long period of campaigning and when, inevitably, a range of views exist. Nevertheless the Conference reflected the anger of firefighters at the lies which have been used to force though the attacks on our pensions and the determination to continue with our campaign.

The resolution which was agreed by Recall Conference is included below. It was also reported that arrangements are being put in place for our demonstration in London on 25 February which will focus particularly on the lies told in Parliament in order to force through the pension changes.

In addition the Executive Council reported that further strike action will be called shortly. Further details will follow once final decisions have been made.

As the General Election approaches, plans are also being put in place in each Region to raise issues about the Fire and Rescue Service - including about pensions – during the campaign. We continue to follow up discussion with other politicians, including the Labour front-bench, about what they are willing to propose on Fire Service issues, including on pensions. Again, further details will follow.

RESOLUTION 1

Campaigning to Defend Firefighter Pensions

The FBU campaign on pensions has developed and unfolded since the General Election of 2010. The Executive Council Statement agreed on 13 January 2015 and issued to Branches sets out a balance sheet of the developments to that point.

Contd/2…


-2-

The Executive Council congratulates FBU members for the outstanding unity and determination shown over the past four years of campaigning. This unity has been maintained despite the potential for division between those on different pension schemes or facing different levels of attack due to the variations in protection arrangements.

This campaign continues against a background of the worst cuts experienced by our service since 1945 and while firefighters along with other public sector workers have seen living standards attacked and squeezed by Government pay policy.

The continuing attacks on pensions are part of a generalised, international and class-based attack on workers arising from the financial crisis of 2007/8. In this context what is required is a serious, well planned and determined opposition from workers in the UK - and across Europe. Such a movement could force back the Governments and other agencies (including the IMF, European Central Bank and others) driving the austerity measures, including the attacks on pensions.

In the absence of such a movement the FBU has fought and continues to fight a campaign founded on:

1.    The unity and determination of FBU members.

2.    A strong evidence based case challenging the affordability, sustainability and workability of the Government proposals; a case based around the real occupational demands of firefighting.

Firefighter pensions are a political matter and decisions about them are taken by politicians. Therefore, this campaign has always sought to shift the position of the politicians making these attacks using every legal, political and industrial weapon at our disposal.

There are four key factors which require the union to assess the latest situation in relation to the attacks on our pensions:

a.    The different approaches adopted by Governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

b.    The political campaign around EDM454 and subsequent debate in the House of Commons.

c.    The introduction of the secondary legislation for the 2015 schemes.

d.    The approaching General Election.

The Executive Council congratulates all members who participated in the campaign around EDM454 and the House of Commons debate

•    This demonstrated once again the strength of our evidence based case.

•    It enabled us to challenge and engage with politicians across the political spectrum.

•    We gained support from MPs from all parties with the notable exception of the Tories and UKIP.

•    We won the support of the Labour leadership on a number of key issues.

•    The lobbying and the debate forced the DCLG Minister in the House of Commons to give assurances and a 'guarantee' on the issue of No Job No Pension which clearly influenced the debate and the vote. This 'guarantee' was subsequently confirmed by the Secretary of State in the Communities and Local Government Committee.

•    Since the Parliamentary debate in December, correspondence and dialogue with fire and rescue service employers has confirmed the legal position outlined by the FBU that the claims of a guarantee were empty and meaningless in law. It is now clear that Parliament has been misled.
Contd/3…

-3-

For the immediate future, the Executive Council recommends that:

1.    A continued lobbying campaign is undertaken to expose the claims made by DCLG and by ministers regarding the guarantee of an unreduced pension for firefighters suffering an age related decline in fitness. This campaign must demand that this issue is addressed by central Government.

2.    The campaign on pensions continues with politicians of all parties in the run up to the General Election.

3.    A specific demand is made that Labour makes clear pledges to change and improve pension arrangements in the event of forming an administration after the General Election.

4.    Each brigade, regional and sectional committee builds a maximum attendance at a national rally in London on Wednesday 25 February.

5.    The Executive Council should consider further industrial action either alone or as part of a coordinated campaign with other unions.

The Executive Council further recommends that the campaign on pensions must continue, taking account of the current situation in each part of the UK and of the approaching election. It should continue to make use of all available tactics, including legal, political and industrial tactics as appropriate. It will continue beyond the General Election and we shall seek to convince this or any future government/s of the need to provide for decent occupational pensions within the Fire and Rescue Service and to make the necessary legislative changes to achieve this.

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL


Best wishes.

Yours fraternally


MATT WRACK
GENERAL SECRETARY


MW/sll

 
Questions and concerns on leaving or not joining the firefighters’ pension scheme PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rob Stone   
Friday, 30 January 2015 14:11

Dear Brother / Sister

Questions and concerns on leaving or not joining the firefighters’ pension scheme

Important: Please note – this circular addresses a number of practical questions regarding the introduction and imposition of the 2015 pension scheme. It does not address wider political and campaigning matters. These are ongoing and will be addressed separately.

We are aware that FBU members around the country are still not clear about the details of the 2015 pension scheme and how it could affect them individually. This uncertainty is making some members think about opting out of their scheme or not joining the 2015 scheme in April. We have informed DCLG that this is an extremely serious issue but still they have not clarified various matters including, most obviously the question of a guaranteed and unreduced pension in the event of a decline in fitness.

In considering these questions it is important to note the following:

 

  • The four new Firefighter pension schemes (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) are being established under legislation.

 

  • The schemes are the responsibility of the relevant Government and the appropriate department in each case (e.g. DCLG for England).

 

  • It is clearly the responsibility of the Government department – and the Minister in each case – to ensure that all parties, and especially scheme members, are fully informed of all details about the scheme they are introducing and all the options open to firefighters.

 

  • The pension schemes are then administered by employers, who also have a responsibility to ensure employees are fully informed and are aware of all the options available.

 

  • Unfortunately at present there is still also a great deal of uncertainty among employers about the new arrangements.

 

  • This means that they too have been unable to address the questions and concerns of firefighters.

 

This situation is outrageous and all these factors have left FBU members in an extremely difficult position as the imposition of the new scheme approaches.

As a result of these failings the union is drawing together the best possible advice and is examining ways in which we can provide the best information and advice to all members. We are also examining ways in which the numerous questions raised by members can be answered to the benefit of all.

Choices facing members

Please be aware that opting out or not joining the 2015 scheme has huge long-term implications and members should not make any such decision until they are aware of all the pitfalls.

For example:

 

  • A member of the 1992 firefighter pension scheme who chooses to opt-out or not join the 2015 scheme will automatically become a deferred member and will be unable to access their pension until age 60 (except on ill-health).

 

  • Such a member will also lose other protections relating to ill-health and injuries.

 

  • They will also lose tax relief on employee contributions.

 

  • This is in addition to losing the employer’s contribution to the pension scheme – which in real terms would amount to a reduction in pay.

 

You will be aware that the FBU cannot give individual financial advice to members but can warn against making decisions of this nature without first getting this advice.  It is vital that anyone who is considering this course of action takes independent financial advice to avoid a situation that they later come to regret. This decision would be irreversible in many instances as the 1992 firefighter scheme is already a closed scheme and in April 2015 the New Firefighters Pension Scheme will also be closed.

In general, members would be advised not to withdraw from occupational schemes, despite our anger over the changes which are being imposed. The union shall also issue further advice and information on this.

Seek advice from local officials

Even at this late stage we are concerned that many members may not be fully aware of how these changes could affect them. We have issued a significant amount of information on the changes over the last three years via circulars, bulletins, short films and face-to-face discussions.  However we continue to receive questions and will do what is possible to address these.

FBU members who have individual queries should seek information from their local employer. In addition they should approach local FBU officials. If local officials are not able to immediately answer a question it can be passed onto Head Office for further advice and information.

Pension questions – dedicated FBU email address

To try to assist this we have set up a pensions query email address where members can email a question.  In response we will attempt to provide clarification or signpost members to an answer. You will recognise that this is the responsibility of the employers and DCLG but recent problems around the apparent Parliamentary guarantee have shown that this is not happening.

If you are an FBU member and you need to get clarification you can email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Please provide your name, Brigade and membership number if known.  We will try to respond to your questions but will not be able to give individual forecasts etc. We may also anonymise some of the questions and provide a generic questions and answers facility.

Best wishes.

Yours fraternally

MATT WRACK
General Secretary

 
Urgent Notice to all FBU Members PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nigel McCullen - Chair   
Saturday, 17 January 2015 10:43

Urgent Notice to all FBU Members

It has become apparent that HFRS are asking for whole-time and retained Firefighter volunteers to;
1.    Drive Ambulances for SCAS in times of high demand when on and off duty.
2.    Take on co-responding duties on a Fire service shift, when above standard crewing. (wholetime only)

None of this has been consulted on with the FBU.

It is extremely important that you do not volunteer for any of this work.

In October 2014 an FBU circular was distributed detailing the national negotiations between the FBU and the NJC, our employers, on several issues around duties outside a Firefighters Rolemap. One of these issues is emergency medical response – e.g. co-responding, falls, on-site trauma care, provision of community training, are part of these negotiations.  You can find a copy of the circular here.

Please keep an eye on the website, or speak to your Branch Rep for further advice.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 18:29
 
Volunteer Ambulance driving for SCAS PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nigel McCullen - Chair   
Monday, 19 January 2015 18:29

Volunteer Ambulance driving for SCAS - Update

Further to our previous article, the need for HFRS staff to be drivers for SCAS may have subsided due to the crisis not being as critical as first thought at the moment.

However, the Service has been approached by SCAS to potentially provide drivers for the upcoming Ambulance strike which we believe is on the 29th January.

As previously detailed we recommend no-one volunteers for this work due to national negotiations on this subject. Obviously, it is doubly imperative that no Union Member works for another agency whilst their Trade Union Members are on strike.

Watch this space for more information...

 

Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 18:52
 
FBU Rally to Support Ricky Matthews PDF Print E-mail
Written by Webmaster   
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 13:37

The 9th December 2014 saw a mass FBU rally in support of sacked Firefighter Ricky Matthews, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Ricky was dismissed from employment for undertaking industrial action. Hamspshire FBU members attended the rally in support of Ricky on the day of FBU strikes throughout England. For those who were unable to attend the rally an audio podcast of key speaches has been compiled and available to listen to here:

 

http://www.hantsfbu.org.uk/podcast_videos/FBU_Aylesbury_Rally_09122014.mp3

 

 

 
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