Fire-fighters in England have announced that a further 24 hour Asos (action short of a strike) will take place from 09.00 on Tuesday 9 December and Wednesday 10 December. This follows the government’s decision to commence the Parliamentary procedure to implement regulations for an unfair, unaffordable and unworkable pension scheme.
After almost three years of discussions fire-fighters still face a stark choice of either being sacked or a severely reduced pension if they fail fitness tests as a result of naturally declining fitness through age.
The evidence presented by the Fire Brigades Union has created considerable political opposition to proposals for fire-fighter pensions – even from within the Westminster coalition. The FBU has gathered cross party support from MPs in Westminster who have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 454) opposing the draft regulations.
The EDM is the procedural mechanism by which the government proposals can be challenged at this stage. This support for fire-fighters includes a number of Liberal Democrats.
Despite this the government have made no attempts to address the concerns within Parliament and are still pressing ahead with forcing through the regulations. They have so far refused to hold a full debate on the issue despite widespread concern among MPs.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Fire-fighters are asking the Westminster government to immediately open genuine negotiations to resolve this dispute. They should also hold a House of Commons debate to fully scrutinise the legislation and there should be a parliamentary vote on the regulations.
“We need to be clear. We are not going to give up or go away. Fire-fighters will fight for however long it takes to secure a fair pensions deal – this dispute will not end as long as the regulations remain unchanged.”
Fire-fighters in Northern Ireland have lifted their trade dispute as the result of a revised and improved offer with a lower pension age.
Fire-fighters in Scotland and Wales will be taking other forms of industrial action but will also not be on strike as a result of genuine negotiations have delivered changes to the proposals facing fire-fighters.
Wrack said: “It is sickening that the only part of the UK where the fire minister refuses to engage in genuine negotiations is England. We cannot accept that fire-fighters in England will be penalised simply because the Westminster government refuses to consider the evidence or even read its own reports on the risks to fire-fighter fitness related to aging. We have won the argument on this issue for the past three years. We face a government which refuses to negotiate or even to listen to reason. Therefore this fight will carry on.”