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Thanks to FBU members PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nigel McCullen - Chair   
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 12:40

Your FBU Chair Nigel Mccullen and Secretary Gary Jackson wish to applaud Hampshire FBU member that positively and pro-actively made a stand, and in doing so made a difference, to the original proposals for cuts to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

As we know not all opposition was met with the same success, yet the professional way in which Hampshire's membership conducted themselves is testament to the pride and passion our firefighters have in their fire service.

We ask you to continue to this level of professionalism as we now enter the implementation stages so that together we can ensure the best and safest level of service to all in the future

Once again thank you to all our members, you excelled all expectations, working together and making a difference.
Demonstrating exactly what the modern professional union is all about.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 12:44
 
Deputation to Portsmouth City Council PDF Print E-mail
Written by Webmaster   
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 10:51

Deputation to Portsmouth City Council given by 8th February 2016

 

My Lord Mayor. Members of the council,

I speak to you today out of genuine concern for the future of our fire service, the safety of my family, friends and the surrounding community here in Portsmouth.

I have listened to the consultations Hampshire Fire and Rescue have held around the County, and I have also listened to our firefighters.

My concern is that it is clear Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, along with many others nationally, are proposing these changes due to a reduction in their budget, not to make us safer here in Portsmouth.



Here in Portsmouth we face: -


• The amount of Firefighters serving and responding being reduced



• Fire engines that can respond to 100% of fire and rescue related incidents cut from 5 to 2.

• An Aerial ladder platform no longer immediately available to cater for our increasing high-rise skyline

• Fire engines tied up with medical response calls rather than available for calls to their primary role. 




All due to a reduction in government funding and yet we are still being told that we will be safer.


These proposals are based upon nothing more than concepts, computer modeling and new technology not yet tried or tested in a real world environment within Hampshire.

Our firefighters already cater for a vast range of incident types. We expect them to be experts in their field. Unfortunately those expectations and the additional training required might exceed the time available to maintain competency to the high standards we see today. Currently they fight fires, perform road traffic collision extrication, flood rescues, HAZMAT incidents, rope rescue to name but a few.

Now proposals look to have our firefighters perform medical calls, a topic requiring not only a great depth of knowledge, expertise and training, but will also consequently impact on their ability to respond to their primary role.

Attending medical calls to support another public service that has already clearly demonstrated the effects of being under resourced, understaffed and cut to the bone.


I understand new technology will play a part in the evolution of our fire service, as it has since its creation, but before we try and reinvent a fire service wouldn’t it be prudent to at least base this model on vehicles and equipment that have at the very least been trialed over a protracted period of time at a number of stations, alongside our current functioning and effective fire appliances?
We have a fire service that keeps us safe today, not due to the number of calls they receive, but based on historical evidence that has led to it being shaped into the service we have now that is both effective and resilient countywide.

Portsmouth is no different.

In 2014 the city had a population of 205,400 and is the only city in the United Kingdom with a greater population density than London.

Up until 2008 we had 3 stations serving the city, and although that was reduced to 2 it was recognised that the risk within the city still required those firefighters and vehicles. The result was that those resources were moved to Cosham and Southsea.

Portsmouth will see the lion share of the cuts, saving the county approximately £578,736 yet it's risks have not reduced.

Infact its population has grown, become more multicultural, the demographic and affluence is extremely diverse and Portsmouth's building stock is historic.

We continue to see large-scale public events drawing equally large numbers to the city, which in real terms increases the risk and likelihood of incidents. These events are great for our cities profile and local business’ but also add to the risk profile.
The risk Profile of a city that has already seen one of its fire stations cut, and resources spread end to end. Sadly, now there is a real threat to reduce these resources even further.
We have a fire service that is immediately available, sufficient in crewing that allows an effective, resilient and efficient Fire and rescue response to our city. An order of priorities I firmly believe the People of Portsmouth deserve.

To summarise, please take into account that I and the people of Portsmouth collectively did not cause this financial crisis, nor did our firefighters or our fire service. A crisis that’s consequences now puts our most effective safety net under the knife.

Please consider how cutting the number of firefighters and vehicles that currently cater for 100% of all incident types will not actually make us safer.

Consider how the people of Portsmouth will wait longer for a fully effective response, whilst the currently proposed reduction of firefighters try and meet their primary role, whilst also attempting to bolster other services in a medical capacity.

Is this the legacy you wish to leave by supporting these proposals, or would you prefer history tells a story of how you stood up for the community of Portsmouth that you serve, defending the fire service we so gratefully receive and appreciate, a fire service that each and every one of us could come to depend upon.

My Lord Mayor and Members of the Council, Its right to be proud of our growing and developing historic city, but I ask you, make the right decision and be equally proud that you saved the fire cover that protects and safeguards the people within it.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 12:39
 
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

 
FBU Legal Pensions Challenge PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rob Stone   
Monday, 06 July 2015 07:24

Fire Brigades Union press release
Friday 3 July 2015
For immediate distribution

Firefighters’ union launches legal challenge against government over pensions

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) today announced it is mounting a legal challenge to the government over what it says are unfair pension arrangements for its members.

Under new arrangements introduced on 1 April, firefighters are expected to ride fire engines, run with heavy fire hoses and carry people out of burning buildings until they are 60.  If they are incapable due to the natural decline of fitness with age, they have to take a reduced pension.

The legal challenge is tackling what the government is calling pension ‘protection’ arrangements, which they say aim to protect firefighters affected by these new pension plans. The ‘protection’ was put in place to cover older workers. They are not being forced out of the pensions they joined and into the new, worse, pension scheme. The FBU say it is utterly unfair, inadequate and discriminatory not to provide the same protection to younger firefighters.  Approximately 13000 firefighters stand to lose out.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have been trying to negotiate adequate protection for firefighters similar to that which was given to them when the last scheme was introduced in 2006. Sadly, the government has refused to honour the pension arrangements which people signed up to on joining the fire and rescue service. This is disgraceful.

“The government has also ripped up previous agreements and it is leaving those who cannot maintain operational fitness with a stark choice - to leave on a severely reduced pension or face the sack. We are not going to go away and we will explore every possible avenue to try to achieve a workable pension scheme for firefighters.”

The FBU has collected fifty test cases to support its legal challenge, and expects to issue tribunal proceedings on behalf of all of the members who do not have protection in the near future.

In total, approximately five million public sector workers are set to lose out under the new ageist pension rules.

Ends

For more information, contact the press office on 02084 811 505 (will divert) or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We have affected firefighters in most areas for regional media.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 July 2015 07:28
 
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

 
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