You will be aware that the attacks on our pensions continue. Among other things, the latest developments include:
- A speech by Danny Alexander MP (Chief secretary to the Treasury) in which he stated that the Government intended to press ahead with increased pension contribution rates; increased retirement age and the introduction of all public sector schemes. This speech was made despite talks with trade unions (through the TUC) continuing. His speech was later described by treasury officials as 'opinion' rather than policy.
- The FBU, along with a number of other unions, has launched a legal challenge against the decision of the government to change the mechanism for up rating pensions from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- Four unions ' UCU, NUT, ATL and PCS ' will be taking national strike action on 30thJune against attacks on pensions.
- We have just concluded an important survey of members on pension matters. The results of this will assist us in discussions with government. The results will be released shortly following consultation with the polling organisation.
FBU conference in May agreed to make preparations for industrial action on the issue of pensions. The Executive Council will be meeting this week to map out the next stages of our campaign. I am aware that brigade committees around the country will be discussing how to ensure that members at branch level are fully consulted and involved in developing this campaign. With this in mind, I attach a proposed Model Resolution for branches to consider. It is essential that all branches discuss this resolution over the next few weeks so as to inform the decision making of the Executive Council.
Executive Council Model Resolution for Branches
Defending Services, Jobs, Pay and Pensions
This Branch applauds the success of the TUC demonstration on March 26 against cuts and austerity.
We remain completely opposed to the huge cuts proposed for our Fire and Rescue Service and other public services as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010. For the Fire and Rescue Service this cuts agenda will mean fewer firefighters and will undermine our ability to respond as quickly and effectively to emergencies or to engage professionally in protection or prevention work. This will inevitably increase risks to the public and to Firefighters. In the case of the Fire Service: Cuts Cost Lives.
This branch condemns:
- The national employers' refusal to make a pay offer for 2010 or 2011
- The cuts to fire cover
- Attacks on our shifts and conditions of services
- The attacks on public sector pension schemes including those in the fire service
Attacks On Pensions
We note that there are currently three attacks on our pensions:
- The change to indexation of pensions by the use of CPI instead of RPI
- The proposed increase in contribution rates from April 2012 which is simply a raid on our pension schemes to raise money to pay off government debt
- The scrapping of all existing schemes by 2015 and their replacement by new imposed schemes based on:
a) Removal of the final salary basis of our pensions
b) Introducing new (worse) accrual rates
c) Increasing retirement ages in the LGPS and FPS
d) Refusing a reduction in the normal retirement age for members of the NFPS
e) Introducing new and as yet unspecified employee contribution rates
We support the decision by the Executive Council to mount a legal challenge against the change from RPI to CPI and its position to mount a legal challenge against any aspect of these attacks where our lawyers advise there is a reasonable prospect of success.
We commit to give financial and moral support to members of those unions who have already balloted to take industrial action starting with the coordinated strike on June 30.
This branch notes that despite efforts by the FBU, by other unions and by the TUC to negotiate on these issues, government Ministers are intent on forcing changes through without agreement.
This branch therefore supports:
- The decision of FBU conference to prepare for national strike action.
- A ballot for such action as soon as the Executive Council concludes this step is necessary.
- Steps to coordinate such industrial action with other unions where appropriate.