On Wednesday, February 25, firefighters again went on strike. We have been in dispute with the government for over two years over our “gold plated” pensions.
The government wanted to increase the firefighters’ pension age to 60 however the report which they commissioned clearly stated that the vast majority of firefighters wouldn’t be able to maintain their fitness until they are 60 due to getting old. This being the case those that couldn’t maintain fitness would be dismissed under capability and they wouldn’t be able to get their pension until the national pension age which at the moment is 66 but will increase. That is harsh for those that have committed their lives in the service of the public, often putting their own lives at risk doing so.
When it went to Parliament last year the Conservative fire minister gave her guarantee that should this be the case that they couldn’t maintain their fitness after the age of 55, then they would be pensioned off. We, the Fire Brigades Union, said at the time that it would be illegal and therefore misleading however Parliament decided to believe their minister with her guarantee and voted it through. Since then we have written to all fire services and sought their view, they in turn sought legal advice and said they couldn’t guarantee it.
This means that Parliament have been misled to get the vote through and the firefighters have been lied to hence the anger felt by us.
Isn’t it amazing that Parliament can be lied to by a Conservative MP, nothing is done about it and the firefighters face the fear that they will be dismissed with no pension for up to 16 years until the national pension age.
Chairman, Norfolk FBU