18 November 2013
TO: All Members - Scotland (home addresses)
Ballot for industrial action short of strike: VOTE YES
By now all members should have received a ballot paper for industrial action Short of Strike. The Executive Council urges you to vote YES in the ballot.
Developments in Scotland
The FBU has welcomed the proposals by the Scottish Government which improve on some of those proposed by the Westminster Government. It is important to note however, that the Scottish proposals do not address in full the concerns on pensions which we have identified over the past three years. For that reason the trade dispute is not settled and our campaign continues.
The proposals discussed with the Scottish Government and employer addressed the following:
they addressed the ‘No Job No Pension’ issue (although discussions continue);
confirmed that the 19 June proposals on early retirement would be retained;
improved the transitional protection;
addressed the RDS modified scheme as soon as possible (which is also the case in England and Wales).
Scottish members were consulted on these proposals and decided that although they did not address all the points in our trade dispute the improved proposals were sufficient to avoid strike action in Scotland at this time.
Issues not addressed
The discussions with members during this consultation made clear that the ‘Scottish proposals’ do not address our concerns around:
Of particular importance at this time is the issue of employee contributions. Firefighters are currently awaiting the third year of increases. While this decision is driven by the UK Treasury, the Scottish Government has applied all previous increases in full. We have no indication that any different approach will be applied for Year 3.
This will be the third year in a row that increases will have been imposed and will mean that the majority of FPS members will pay 14.2% from April 2014. Most NFPS members will pay 10.4%.
NFPS members transferring into the 2015 scheme will also see a further increase of around 2.2% in 2015 meaning they will have seen an increase in their contributions for four years in a row.
The outstanding key proposals on Firefighter pensions mean that despite some improvements in the discussions in Scotland the proposals for all Firefighters in the UK remain unaffordable and unacceptable. Therefore the trade dispute continues in Scotland as well in the rest of the UK.
As a consequence the Executive Council agreed that all FBU members in Scotland, England and Wales should be balloted for Action Short of Strike.
What will the action look like?
In the circumstances, a ballot for Action Short of Strike in Scotland is an entirely measured response.
The FBU is aware that the Fire and Rescue Service is hugely dependant on the goodwill of FBU members and that many members feel reluctant to provide such goodwill at a time when our pensions are under such a savage attack.
One of the fundamental considerations of any action called is to strike the most advantageous balance between maximising its impact (i.e. supporting our campaign for changes) whilst minimising its hardship on members. This will be a key aim of the action and there is a wide-range of action which can be taken. The views of local members via local Brigade and Regional Committees will be taken into consideration before action is called.
Vote YES in the ballot
We urge you to vote YES to provide the mandate the FBU needs to continue to seek improvements in the proposals for Firefighter pensions.
Please continue to support our campaign for fair, sustainable and affordable pensions. Vote YES:
Vote YES – to oppose any further increase in the amount you pay for your pension.
Vote YES – for your employer to pay more as a proportion towards your pension.
Vote YES – for an improvement in the proposed commutation arrangements for your pension.
Vote YES – for an overall improvement in cost-ceiling for the Firefighters Pension Scheme.
Vote YES – in support of those FBU members who still do not qualify for transitional protection.
Vote YES – in support of NFPS members who face even higher increases in pension contribution rates.
Vote YES – for fairer, consistent and more affordable pension arrangements for Firefighters throughout the UK.