Region 3 Fire Brigades Union

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Pension Claim - Urgent

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Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2015 11:40
 

Non-Protected Members of 1992 FPS - Action needed for legal challenge

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TO:      ALL MEMBERS (HOME ADDRESSES) - noT protected members of the 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme

Dear Brother/Sister

Pensions

On 30 June you were informed via circular 2015HOC0417MW that the FBU had started the process of mounting a legal challenge in relation to ‘protection’ arrangements for firefighters who have been moved or will be moved into the new 2015 pension schemes i.e those who have not been fully covered by the ‘protection’ arrangements. (N.B. This includes considering a challenge for FBU members who are members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS)). The first steps of this challenge, which required a test case being lodged in each individual service, was completed on 30 June.

The process also involves an early conciliation process with ACAS to see if there is any room for movement on this issue before the legal process moves to the next stage. We have spoken to ACAS and informed them of the details and will update members of any developments, if any, that emerge as a result of this early conciliation.

The next step of the process involves you directly as a claimant.

We will need to register a claim on behalf of everyone who is adversely affected by these protection proposals. This will mean that we will need all your details as soon as possible.

To enable this to be achieved as swiftly and as easy as possible we are posting an online questionnaire on the FBU website www.fbu.org.uk this will be active from Monday 13 July.

It is important that you complete the form and submit it as soon as possible.

In addition to this we are also posting an explanation of the challenge and how it could affect you on our website. It is extremely important that you read this before you complete the questionnaire. There is an explanation for members of the firefighter pension schemes and members of the local government pension schemes. 

Filling in the on-line form

The form requires you to enter your FBU membership number, as we are only making this challenge on behalf of our members. Your membership number can be found on your hard copy home address version of this circular. We will only process claims for FBU members so it is important that you insert your membership number.

  • FPS and NFPS members - It is very important that you complete the on-line form unless you are a protected member of the 1992 firefighters’ pension scheme.
  • If you have joined or are in the process of joining the RDS modified scheme it is also important that you complete the form.
  • If you are a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) it is also important that you complete the form.

The reason for this is that we are still trying to develop a challenge in relation to all the protection in all fire service schemes and we will need your details should this develop.

Please note that because of the large number of claims we request that you use the on-line form on all occasions.

Next steps

The Executive Council has agreed to proceed on the basis of legal advice received, but it is very important to note that we cannot predict how this case will proceed. In any such legal challenge there are no guarantees of success.

It is also worth reiterating that you should be aware that the Executive Council continues to consider every possible avenue for challenging the arrangements which were imposed in April, as well as seeking improvements to the new scheme.

You will be kept updated on this issue as it develops.

Best wishes.

Yours fraternally,

                       

MATT WRACK

General Secretary

MW/sll

 

Pension - First Steps initiated on legal challenge over Pension Protection Arrangements

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TO:        ALL MEMBERS

Dear Brother/Sister

Pensions: first steps on legal challenge over pension protection arrangements

The FBU has today started the process of mounting a legal challenge in relation to ‘protection’ arrangements for firefighters who were in the 1992 Firefighters’ pension scheme (FPS). These measures were introduced by government with the claim that they would allow pension scheme members time to adjust to the new arrangements introduced form April 2015. The FBU has consistently argued that the 2015 schemes do not take adequate account of the specific needs of the fire and rescue service or of firefighters. We have also consistently argued that the ‘transitional protection’ arrangements were utterly unfair to pension scheme members.

The union believes that the protection that was imposed without agreement is wholly inadequate and that is open to challenge in various ways relating to discrimination.

The start of this process follows extensive discussion between senior officials and legal teams. The Executive Council has been clear throughout the pension campaign that every avenue for challenge will be explored – including legal challenges if these are identified as viable. Following lengthy discussions and detailed advice a formal process has been started.

This involves a test case from each brigade in the UK as well as other test cases relating to particular aspects of potential discrimination. A process is now being set up to allow members to register their case via the FBU website. A further circular explaining this will be issued shortly.

The union have been trying to negotiate better protection arrangements through the pension campaign but Westminster government has so far simply refused to budge on this issue and has applied the same protection rules across all the public sector schemes.

Clearly we cannot predict how this case will proceed, but members should be aware that the Executive Council continues to consider every possible avenue for challenging the arrangements which were imposed in April as well as seeking improvements to the new scheme.

Members will be kept updated on this issue as it develops.

Best wishes.

Yours fraternally,

                       

MATT WRACK

General Secretary

 

Firefit Validation Tests

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TO:             ALL MEMBERS

Dear Brother/Sister

Firefit validation tests – FBU members encouraged to participate

The FBU has been focussing on fitness standards as part of our challenge to show that the government’s arguments that firefighters can maintain operational fitness until age 60 are flawed.

Part of the evidence we previously submitted in our pension campaign related to the ongoing work of Firefit. In addition to this we have been discussing the recommended safe fitness standards that were outlined in the latest report ‘occupational fitness standards for operational UK fire and rescue personnel’ by Dr James Bilzon.

The standards identified in this report relate to the demands placed on operational firefighters during a series of tasks undertaken by volunteers in earlier trials. These tests were based upon essential tasks which are carried out by operational firefighters on a regular basis. The tests were undertaken at an agreed pace where participants wore firefighting kit and gas analysis testing masks. The tests confirmed that the safe recommended fitness standard for firefighting roles was 42.3VO2 and that below this standard a firefighter could not be guaranteed to be able to safely and effectively perform the essential part of their role.

However, it is important to note that there will be individuals who can meet the same standards of activity without this level of VO2. This is due to variations in human physiology. It is also important to note that the standard arises from the work-related tests and not vice versa. The key issue is the ability to perform work related tests.

This report and subsequent presentation from Dr Bilzon has proved very helpful and has helped us in our discussions designed to achieve an occupational fitness standard for all UK firefighters.

This is being opposed currently by the national fire service employers who want each FRS to be able to decide its own fitness standards. This position is being opposed by the FBU and we are attempting to build a strong case to show the only logical way to deal with firefighter fitness is to have an occupational fitness standard. The union has argued that there is no logic

The FBU position on a professional safe standard for all UK firefighters was debated at our recent Conference and agreed:

              1. On the need for an occupational fitness standard for all firefighters in the UK
              1. That this standard should be based around the recommended fitness standard of 42.3 VO2 for all firefighting roles.
            1. To immediately explore the extent of employers’ duty of care responsibilities in relation to this and challenge as appropriate.
          1. That ‘during career’ tests and standards must be objectively and clearly linked to the requirements of the job.
        1. To explore the issue of differing fitness levels for firefighting roles and other roles in more detail and agree a position in the future.
      1. To support the request from Firefit to involve members in the selected brigades.
    1. To communicate this position to members.

    8.  For FBU officials to formally meet with the Firefit Chair to discuss their work in more detail.

    9.  To ensure that all ongoing work is closely monitored and any decision is revisited if necessary in the future.

Work is progressing on all these areas and officials have already met with the Firefit Chair, Justin Johnston.

Firefit has now designed a during-career test that has been designed to be linked to the requirements of the role. The union has suggested some amendments to an earlier assessment programme which incorporates this during-career test and we will be discussing this further.

Firefit now intends to run a series of validation tests for this during-career assessment in the following brigades:

  • GMC
  • Merseyside
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Leicestershire
  • West Yorkshire

We have discussed these with the Firefit Chair and in line with the Conference decision we have agreed to write to members in those Brigades, encouraging them to volunteer to participate.

We have also been invited to observe these tests and in at least one brigade have been informed that brigade officials will be participating. We are encouraging members to participate because we would like these tests to involve a wide range of firefighters, taking account of age and gender. It is important to note that the FBU has not signed up to anything in relation to fitness and is continuing to monitor the situation as a whole. These are discussions which are still under way. Further reports will follow.

Best wishes.

Yours fraternally,

                       

MATT WRACK

General Secretary

 

Durham Miners Gala - Invite to members

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 14:48
 
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