A delegation of Unite the Union representatives consisting of Gail Cartmail AGS Unite, Bryan Freake Unite pension expert, Rob Rigby DF&RS Branch Secretary, Mark Rogers DF&RS Executive Committee member and David Kirby Defence Fire & Rescue Service (DF&RS) North of England Rep, attended the meeting with Lord Newby & Treasury representatives at the House of Lords, London.
The meeting was called by Lord Newby to address our exclusion from the Public Service Pension Bill, specifically with the exemption to a Normal Retirement Age (NRA) of 60 for ‘Fire and Rescue workers’.
Prior to the meeting we spoke with Lord Hutton who compiled the pension report which this Bill is based on. He informed us that when compiling his report he was not aware of the MoD Defence Fire & Rescue Service!! He would have no issue with DF&RS being included and we are hoping he will speak at the report stage in the House of Lords on 12th February 13 in our favour to support our amendment, which will be voted on by the Lords chamber.
Lord Newby started by saying; times are difficult and anything that had a cost to it would be scrutinised by the Treasury!
We put our case strongly informing Lord Newby; that with the physical demands of being an operational Firefighter it was going too far having a normal retirement age for DF&RS of up to 68! Explaining the rigors of the work involved, medical & fitness standards to maintain and quoting the latest government sponsored report on NRA for Firefighters by Dr. Williams, who recommends that 60 is the appropriate NRA for Firefighters. This is argued by the FBU who want the NRA back down to 55!
Lord Newby only offered to ‘look into our pension scheme’ but he would not be putting an amendment to the Bill to address this issue. We are extremely disappointed by this outcome after fighting so hard to get this far. We wait to see what might come out of the Treasury ‘looking into our pension scheme’ but we still live to fight another day!
We are putting our amendment forward with the help of Lord Eatwell from the Labour Benches and his team in the Lords. This could be voted on next week, we go to the report stage on the 12th February hoping to get enough votes to go through into the Commons.
This will be a hard vote to win because of the Coalition whipping their members to vote against our amendment! I urge you all to write to your MP’s ask for their support in lobbying and asking parliamentary questions to Defence & Treasury on the grounds for imposing an NRA of up to 68 on Firefighters with in the DF&RS when there is no medical evidence to support it?
Just because we are Civil Servants and in the PCS Pension Scheme isn’t good enough! A pension scheme has to be fit for purpose & be able to account for different occupations. One scheme does not fit all.
Report compiled by a Delegation of DF&RS Executive Committee Members from a meeting at 11.00hrs on 5th February 2013 at House of Lords, London.
Rob Rigby DF&RS National Branch Secretary
Mark Rogers DF&RS executive Committee Member
Dave Kirby DF&RS north of England Regional Rep