The Executive Council met yesterday (October 18) to assess the current situation around our campaign to defend pensions. This included report backs from discussions at our Committees across the UK as well as reports from the most recent meetings with Government ministers and officials.
The most significant development to be considered was the decision of the Westminster Government to comply with the FBU request not to set an immediate cost ceiling for the Firefighters' Pension Scheme. This clearly does not resolve the issue in any way. It does however offer us an opportunity to try influence Government before any such cost ceiling is set. Among TUC trade unions, this has put us in a unique position since cost ceilings have now been set for the main public sector schemes.
A major concern of our colleagues in other unions has been a refusal by Government to engage in serious dialogue or genuine negotiations in the other pension scheme talks. Frustration at this is a key feature of the current campaigns in a number of unions. In relation to the Firefighters scheme it would be dishonest of us to make such a claim at this time. Ministers have met us on several occasions; have agreed to all meetings requested; have currently provided all information asked for and have allocated actuaries and pension officials to assist in talks.
It is important to note that none of this means the core issues will be resolved ' there remain very serious disagreements. It simply means that in terms of current talks we cannot say that Government are refusing to engage in a dialogue. Most significantly, ministers have agreed to a very important demand from the FBU i.e. not to set the cost ceiling immediately.
As a result of these and other considerations, the Executive Council concluded that there should not be an immediate move to industrial action. Such action may become necessary and the next few weeks will be crucial in assessing the Government position before such a decision is made.
I attach a statement agreed from the Executive Council to further explain the position. Further reports will be provided to Committees and Branches.