Firefighter pensions row continues

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Firefighters outside Battersea Fire Station during the strike on Friday, May 2 Firefighters outside Battersea Fire Station during the strike on Friday, May 2

Firefighters have staged three days of strikes over the Bank Holiday weekend in a long-running dispute with the Government over pensions, with no sign of any breakthrough to the deadlocked row.

The Fire Brigades Union said support for the walkouts in England and Wales was as strong as ever.

General secretary Matt Wrack called on the Government to stop "playing games" and renew efforts to resolve the dispute.

He said: "Yet again firefighters have shown the strength of their anger over government attacks on their pensions and have been united in standing up for a fair, workable and affordable deal.

"It's very disappointing that we've been forced to hold another three days of strikes but nothing will deflect firefighters' resolve when the future of their families - and the fire and rescue service itself - is at stake.

"Just like the current bout of industrial action, future strikes could be avoided simply by the Government honouring current pension promises and releasing proposals for the future that reflect the discussions we've held over the last three years and take account of the evidence we have presented about our occupation.

"Surely it's now time for their games to stop and common sense to prevail?"

Fire authorities made alternative arrangements for fire cover during the strikes, including hiring contractors or using part-time and retained firefighters.

The FBU maintains that firefighters are having to pay higher pension contributions, face working into their late 50s before retiring and could be sacked because their fitness declines as they get older.

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "The deal on the table gives firefighters one of the most generous pension schemes in all the public sector, and the proposals protect the earned rights of a higher proportion of members than any other public sector scheme.

"Nearly three-quarters will see no change in their pension age in 2015."

The Government denied union claims that ministers had drawn up alternative proposals six weeks ago, but had been "sitting" on them ever since.

Comments (6)

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12:11pm Mon 5 May 14

buggsie says...

Face working until their late 50s - they should be able to stay fit until at least their mid 60s - and if they are sacked because their fitness declines as they get older - well it's up to them to keep fit.
Face working until their late 50s - they should be able to stay fit until at least their mid 60s - and if they are sacked because their fitness declines as they get older - well it's up to them to keep fit. buggsie
  • Score: -11

3:43pm Mon 5 May 14

DB says...

In today's climate, it obviously sounds disgraceful that public sector workers should be allowed to retire on a full pension in their 50s, but you have to remember that these arrangements were made in very different times.

I think that these pension contracts should be honoured, but at the same time we must make sure we are not falling into the same trap by offering similar deals to new recruits.

New firefighters should not be allowed more favourable pension schemes and earlier retirement ages than other workers. If they are deemed to unfit to do a frontline role past 50, surely there is some training, maintenance, or back office role they can do until they are at a decent retirement age?

The key thing is that new firefighters need to go into the job knowing what pension is on offer. It would seem unfair to promise one thing and give something completely different.
In today's climate, it obviously sounds disgraceful that public sector workers should be allowed to retire on a full pension in their 50s, but you have to remember that these arrangements were made in very different times. I think that these pension contracts should be honoured, but at the same time we must make sure we are not falling into the same trap by offering similar deals to new recruits. New firefighters should not be allowed more favourable pension schemes and earlier retirement ages than other workers. If they are deemed to unfit to do a frontline role past 50, surely there is some training, maintenance, or back office role they can do until they are at a decent retirement age? The key thing is that new firefighters need to go into the job knowing what pension is on offer. It would seem unfair to promise one thing and give something completely different. DB
  • Score: 9

7:50pm Mon 5 May 14

K and P Wells says...

I say support your firefighters, because one day you might want them to support you, it seems the only people that really respect these guys and girls are the ones that have had to use them. !!!
I say support your firefighters, because one day you might want them to support you, it seems the only people that really respect these guys and girls are the ones that have had to use them. !!! K and P Wells
  • Score: 5

8:33am Tue 6 May 14

helen59 says...

As much as I support the firefighters I am struggling to understand why they think they should be treated so differently to other people. There are other people who put their lives on the line for us each day and I do not see them coming out pensions etc. etc. could someone please tell me why the firefighters think they are so different ?

If they feel they cannot fight fires at 50 then surely they could go onto the admin side or even training other firefighters !!
As much as I support the firefighters I am struggling to understand why they think they should be treated so differently to other people. There are other people who put their lives on the line for us each day and I do not see them coming out pensions etc. etc. could someone please tell me why the firefighters think they are so different ? If they feel they cannot fight fires at 50 then surely they could go onto the admin side or even training other firefighters !! helen59
  • Score: 1

2:06pm Tue 6 May 14

DB says...

helen59 wrote:
As much as I support the firefighters I am struggling to understand why they think they should be treated so differently to other people. There are other people who put their lives on the line for us each day and I do not see them coming out pensions etc. etc. could someone please tell me why the firefighters think they are so different ? If they feel they cannot fight fires at 50 then surely they could go onto the admin side or even training other firefighters !!
I do think it is a difficult question, and I certainly don't think that the firefighters will do themselves any favours if they go with the 'lives on the line' argument - that is very true, but not at all relevant. The only relevant argument here is that they were promised a pension on those terms and that is what they have worked 20+ years to acheive.

Of course, there has been a ratcheting down of everyone's pension. How many people started paying into the state pension on the understanding they'd get it at 65 but because of government financial mis-management that is 67-68 already for a lot of them?

What is happening to the firefighters pension agreements seems much more fierce and severe than that. They have to accept their share of the pain along with everyone else, but it is hardly their fault that the pension terms were far too generous in the first place.

I do wonder what it will do for recruitment. Firefighting is a hard job for not great money, and the only real upsides have been that it is a career that allows you to supplement your income on the side and a fantastic pension that is paid out very early. Take that away and will we struggle to get people into the job?
[quote][p][bold]helen59[/bold] wrote: As much as I support the firefighters I am struggling to understand why they think they should be treated so differently to other people. There are other people who put their lives on the line for us each day and I do not see them coming out pensions etc. etc. could someone please tell me why the firefighters think they are so different ? If they feel they cannot fight fires at 50 then surely they could go onto the admin side or even training other firefighters !![/p][/quote]I do think it is a difficult question, and I certainly don't think that the firefighters will do themselves any favours if they go with the 'lives on the line' argument - that is very true, but not at all relevant. The only relevant argument here is that they were promised a pension on those terms and that is what they have worked 20+ years to acheive. Of course, there has been a ratcheting down of everyone's pension. How many people started paying into the state pension on the understanding they'd get it at 65 but because of government financial mis-management that is 67-68 already for a lot of them? What is happening to the firefighters pension agreements seems much more fierce and severe than that. They have to accept their share of the pain along with everyone else, but it is hardly their fault that the pension terms were far too generous in the first place. I do wonder what it will do for recruitment. Firefighting is a hard job for not great money, and the only real upsides have been that it is a career that allows you to supplement your income on the side and a fantastic pension that is paid out very early. Take that away and will we struggle to get people into the job? DB
  • Score: 4

3:27pm Wed 7 May 14

LiberalsOut says...

Sooner or later a Government is going to have to grasp the nettle of unsustainable and unaffordable Public Sector pensions
Eventually they will have to be phased out
The "I was promised this 20 years ago" arguement does not hold anymore - nothing stays the same, as those of us with private pensions have found out to our cost, while paying towards the public sector pension pot.
Maybe then we can ALL have a decent State Pension?
Sooner or later a Government is going to have to grasp the nettle of unsustainable and unaffordable Public Sector pensions Eventually they will have to be phased out The "I was promised this 20 years ago" arguement does not hold anymore - nothing stays the same, as those of us with private pensions have found out to our cost, while paying towards the public sector pension pot. Maybe then we can ALL have a decent State Pension? LiberalsOut
  • Score: 1

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