UK – Thousands of fire-fighters and more than a million local government workers across the UK could participate in a strike action next month due to controversial pension reforms.
The Fire Brigade Union’s (FBU) national executive plans to recall a union conference on 16 February to “recommend” industrial action following government plans to cut fire-fighter pensions.
According to the Union, government wants to increase the minimum retirement age from 50 to 55 for anyone retiring after 30 March 2013, and to 60 for new entrants.
It also wants to cut ill-health retirement benefits, making it increasingly difficult to get an ill-health pension following injury in service, and increase the retirement age for deferred pensioners to 65.
The FBU stated that government has ignored requests for a meeting with union representatives, who claim that firefighters have a raw pensions deal compared to police and ambulance services personnel.
However, a spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister told IPE: “Ministers believe that the deal which they have agreed for fire-fighters remains beneficial and meets the future needs of the Fire and Rescue Service.
“The new pension arrangements continue to provide more favourable arrangements than those at present available for members of the ambulance service, who have a normal pension age of 60 under the terms of the NHS pension scheme. The NHS scheme is subject to review.”
But according to FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, “Fire crews feel they have been kicked in the teeth. Politicians are quick to publicly praise our skills and dedication while at the same time trying to pick-pocket our pensions.”
There will be no dispute if we are treated fairly and at the moment we are not,” said Wrack. “We want to co-ordinate our campaign with over a million other public service workers who want to protect their pensions.”
The ODPM stated it had noted the conference recall but it was too early to speculate on contingency planning because a strike had not yet been confirmed.