Last month, more than 2,000 firefighters came together to rally outside Westminster in protest over recent changes to their pension schemes. This rally was organised on the 25th February 2015 by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), to coincide with the recent and distant strike actions from firefighters all across England. The FBU have argued quite forcefully that recent changes to pension schemes are unworkable and impossible to adhere to.
So What is it All About?
This national strike follows on from a misleading House of Commons debate held back in December 2014. Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt has been accused of deliberately misleading MPs, during this debate, into thinking that firefighters would be guaranteed a full pension even in the event that they fail to maintain fitness due to aging. This notion was further reinforced by DCLG Secretary Eric Pickles, who also promised the same guarantees.
However, these promises were made by Ministers who had full knowledge of the fact that no such guarantees are present in the current legal regulation wording. The same Ministers were made aware of this fact by fire service employers before the debate took place, but yet they still continued to make these false promises throughout.
This, of course, was met with fierce reaction from firefighters across the country that then went on to confirm the fact that these guarantees made in the House of Commons were not as resolute as first claimed. Many firefighters today still face the risk of losing their job and pension funds, due to the natural process of aging.
Members of the FBU took it upon themselves to rally in Westminster Methodist Hall, before exiting onto the streets and demanding answers from David Cameron on the misleading of parliament. After writing three letters calling for answers and being ignored, the FBU decided to take over Downing Street and make their voices heard.
Find a Resolution Soon
Whatever the resolution may be to this ongoing dispute, we hope for the sake of our country’s firefighters and for the safety of the public that it is solved quickly! Denying someone a pension do to aging seems harsh and unworkable, so let’s hope the government find a way to tackle this issue soon!