CIRCULAR:Â Â 2013HOC0366MW
4th July 2013
TO:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â ALL MEMBERS
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING NEXT WEEK TO CONSIDER NEXT STEP IN PENSION CAMPAIGN
The Executive Council is being reconvened next week to discuss the latest pension proposals given to us by CLG Fire Minister Brandon Lewis.
The Executive Council met in June and took the decision not to recommend acceptance of the latest proposal to members. A circular, (2013HOC0334MW) was issued on 21 June 2013, informing members of this. Included with this circular was a copy of the latest letter from the Fire Minister and the resolution agreed by the Executive Council.
Employers and Government have already started sending out their own interpretation of what the proposal could mean.
What is immediately recognisable however is the lack of any detail in important areas where we need absolute clarity on what this could mean to you.
Some areas have been clarified further.Â For example in the case of the enhanced actuarial reduction proposal which clarifies that a member of the 2015 scheme who chooses to access their pension at age 55 or 56 will have an actuarial reduction of 21.8% or 17.9% respectively. This detail has enabled us to work out what this could mean to an individual in this position. It allows us to provide a detailed explanation of what an actuarial reduction is and how it works in practice.Â A circular has been provided to Brigade Officials, which should enable them to explain it in more detail should you require it.
Other areas of the proposal are far less detailed and are open to interpretation and change. For example CLG are suggesting that the employee contributions in the 2015 scheme may be on average 12.6% in 2015, 12.7% in 2016 and 12.8% in 2017.Â This does seem to propose a lower contribution rate than the 13.2% initially suggested but it should be viewed with extreme caution. It outlines that an average of all firefighter scheme contributions will be used to arrive at the rate for the 2015 scheme. Â What this means in real terms is that to achieve these lower rates there must be a full increase in the NFPS and FPS contribution rates in 2014.Â If we are successful in influencing the consultation and achieve any reduction in the 2014 increases, the proposed 2015 rates suggested will have to be increased to take account of this. This is yet another example of where any improvement to one is offset by a detrimental change to another.
The other key area of concern relates to the issue of â€˜no job no pensionâ€™. The latest offer seems to suggest that the Fire Minister is content to establish a Joint Working Party with the employers to examine some of the workforce management issues we have raised. We have no other information regarding this group and do not know if we have been invited to participate in any way.
This suggested group, along with other vague proposals, has been introduced at the 11th hour, with no detail in a letter that requests the agreement of the FBU to it without any further modification of the 2015 before 12 July 2013. The Fire Minister has also threatened that any notification of a ballot will result in the withdrawal of the latest proposals and a reverting back to the final agreement document they sent us in May 2012.
It is impossible to recommend acceptance of such a vague proposal lacking real detail without taking a huge leap of faith, which the Executive Council is not willing to do.
Brandon Lewis has now given us an ultimatum that if we do not agree these in full by 12 July 2013 or if we initiate a ballot these latest proposals will be removed.
This is a not a constructive way of negotiating and limits the options available to us.
The Executive Council has already decided that the latest proposals cannot be recommended and Conference has previously given us a mandate for industrial action.
The meeting next week will be extremely important and members should prepare themselves to react to the decisions made.