â€œMy goal is clear: to get the best deal possible for firefighters and resolve this dispute.â€
Those were the words about the pensionâ€™s dispute that Penny Mordaunt, the Westminster fire minister, wrote to all firefighters inÂ August.
The FBU negotiations team was told that the minister was speaking to others in government to see what could be done to resolve this dispute.
The Department for Communities and Local Government negotiators asked the FBU to provide drafts for pension regulations which they said they were now considering from a legal point of view.
However, at our most recent meeting with the minister, no revised proposals were offered. I know all firefighters are outraged.
We have been patient, we have always been willing to negotiate and we have always acted with complete integrity â€“ as the public would expect from firefighters.
This government may praise us when we respond to major incidents but their actions demonstrate utter contempt for firefighters and the work of our service.
We have now lodged a legal challenge to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in relation to the way in which the proposed pension regulations set out the flexible retirement from the 2015 schemeâ€™s minimum pension age of 55.
Carr report – Yet another attack on the FBU
A report published last month by the government has accused a number of trade unions, including our own, of so-called â€œextreme tacticsâ€ in industrial and political campaigning.
These claims are based on unsubstantiated allegations and, in some cases, criticism of campaigning methods which are perfectly lawful andÂ acceptable.
The report, by barrister Bruce Carr QC, is a smear job on a number of trade unions.
It is no accident that the FBU has been included. It is because we have dared to stand up and challenge the government and our employers over the pension attacks and over local attacks on the service and on our conditions.
During the run-up to the next general election in May 2015 trade unionists will no doubt face this kind of political and media onslaught as our opponents try to create the circumstances for yet another round of attacks on the rights of workers and of trade unions.
The disastrous Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated in secret by the European Union and US would, if agreed, have major implications for all UK public services including the fire and rescueÂ service.
MPâ€™s will be asked to nod through any agreement, but someÂ parts of it could come into force without even this minimal scrutiny.
In short, it would give multi- national corporations the right to carve up all public services and sue the government if they do not make enough money from the deal.
TTIP is a threat to public sector workers and taxpayers alike and the FBU will be campaigning with other unions to oppose it.
We have recently negotiated a number of new benefits for members which now include health, shopping and insurance costs. I recommend that all members check these out and see how you can take advantage here.
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