Westminster

Pensions – write to MPs about the threat of mass dismissals

The FBU is asking members to write their MP about the Westminster government’s plans for firefighters’ pensions. The government is pressing on with its Public Sector Pensions Bill, which imposes a normal pension age (NPA) of 60 on firefighters. Yet its own report published earlier this year shows most firefighters cannot work safely until that age. The report will also mean stringent fitness testing, which will result in thousands of firefighters facing the sack. That is bad for firefighters and for the service we provide to our communities. The FBU would like members to write to MPs.  The text is below.

Dear

You will be aware of the ongoing discussions between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Westminster government regarding firefighter pensions, which have now reached a crucial stage.

In January this year CLG published its review into the normal pension age (NPA) for firefighters. The Public Service Pensions Bill imposes an NPA of 60 on firefighters currently working in the UK. The FBU has consistently argued that medical evidence does not support this imposition and that there are no redeployment opportunities for older firefighters. The ability to redeploy firefighters when they were no longer able to achieve the fitness standards was the logic behind the last government’s plans when it introduced an NPA of 60 for new entrants in 2006. The FBU has shown that redeployment opportunities do not exist, which is accepted by all parties.

The NPA report authored by Dr Tony Williams is clear that only firefighters recruited at a higher level of fitness than at present and who undergo special fitness training throughout their career could potentially work beyond 55. The report provides ample evidence that between a half and two-thirds of current firefighters will not be deemed fit enough to work beyond 55. The report also confirms that women firefighters will be disproportionately affected by an NPA of 60 thereby undermining several decades of progress on equality in the service.

For this reason the report recommends including further protection, so that firefighters are not financially penalised by the new scheme. If this is not forthcoming, the report also suggests that thousands of firefighters unable to meet the recommended fitness levels may face capability dismissal from the service without access to their pension. This is totally unacceptable.

The FBU is still awaiting a response from the Westminster government. I am urging you to make representations to ministers on behalf of firefighters. If you require any further information or wish to meet to discuss this in more detail, I will be happy to do so.

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