Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Solidarity with fire fighters on strike tomorrow
Tomorrow the 25th of September Fire fighters up and down the land will be on strike from 12 pm. The strike is for 4 hours from 12 pm in a dispute over pensions. In a FBU press release On Wednesday 25 September 2013, FBU members (except control members) in England and Wales will take part in strike action between 12:00 and 16:00 hours. The English (CLG) Fire Minister, Brandon Lewis, is publicly saying that this strike action is completely unnecessary. It some ways this is true. It is unnecessary because we have given central government every opportunity to avoid it. All we are asking for is for them to come to the negotiating table and to sort out this mess that they have caused by pressing on with the proposals for an unworkable, unaffordable and unsustainable pension scheme. It is a sad day for all fire-fighters when the only option left to us is to take strike action, but unfortunately, after almost two years, where we have exhausted every possible avenue, it seems that this is the only alternative. Taking strike action is always the last resort, and is not a pleasant experience. It is vital that all FBU members support each other through this time. Almost 80% voted in favour of industrial action in A ballot that ended earlier this month, although union officials have left the Strike to the last possible moment to allow for the possibility of a negotiated Settlement. Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said: This initial strike Is a warning shot to government. Fire-fighters could not be more serious about Protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions. Governments in Westminster And Cardiff has simply refused to see sense on these issues. It’s ludicrous to expect fire-fighters to fight fires and rescue families in Their late-50s: the lives of the general public and fire-fighters themselves will Be endangered. None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and fire-fighter Safety. Fire-fighters in Scotland will not strike this week while union officials are Discussing the Scottish Governments most recent proposals. However, a settlement in Scotland has not yet been found, and the unions Strike ballot could still result in industrial action in Scotland too. The strike will take place for four hours, between noon and 4pm. The governments own figures have shown that thousands of fire-fighters could Face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because they are getting Old.> A recent government review found that over half of current fire-fighters Between the ages of 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet fire and rescue service Fitness standards for fighting fires. Beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to Meet the standards. And although the government has previously claimed that older fire-fighters Could be moved to less physically demanding roles, FBU research found only a Handful of opportunities in fire and rescue services, meaning Mass sackings would be inevitable. Fire-fighters already pay some of the highest pension contributions in the UK Public or private sector and have seen increases for two consecutive years. The Majority of fire-fighters already pay almost 13% of their salary in contributions With further increases due next year. This will mean some fire-fighters now face An increase six years in a row.Firefighters also argue that the governments financial projections are Flawed. They are based on a prediction of a 1% decline in pension sign-up, but Their own information suggests that over 25% of whole-time fire-fighters Recruited last year chose not to join. The FBU has warned these figures clearly Demonstrate that changes to the scheme are already having an impact and, if the trend continues, that the financial viability of the scheme will be seriously undermined.