...Together We Stand!
Update on Pensions following EC Meeting on 17th September
Update from the Executive Council meeting 17 September 2014
The Executive Council has met this week for a quarterly business meeting. The meeting also addressed the issue of the ongoing dispute and negotiations around pensions.
Recent weeks have seen a series of meeting with government about pensions. The most significant of these have been with DCLG Minister, Penny Mordaunt and her team. At the most recent of these, Penny Mordaunt suggested areas where significant progress might be made. FBU officials subsequently sought additional advice from legal and actuarial advisors on these issues and further discussions have proceeded with DCLG officials. Some of these issues are complex and specialist advice is necessary to ensure the rights of FBU members are properly considered.
The Executive Council finished early to allow negotiators to meet again with DCLG civil servants tomorrow (18 September). A meeting is also planned for the following week between FBU officials, representatives of the fire service employers and DCLG officials. These will be followed by a further meeting with Penny Mordaunt. Further dialogue with DCLG today has confirmed that additional meetings will be scheduled over the next few days if necessary.
The DCLG Minister has reiterated her commitment to seek to offer the best possible arrangements for firefighter pensions. In order to maintain dialogue, she has again confirmed her position that no steps will be taken to introduce new pension regulations until after 13 October at the earliest. As previously explained, this is a delay of two months in relation to the original DCLG plans. The Executive Council have concluded that this is a welcome step by the Minister and opens up time and an opportunity for progress if government are so willing.
The Executive Council concluded that the current round of discussions had marked an improvement in dialogue between the two sides and could provide an opportunity for negotiations to provide improvements in key areas for the benefit of FBU members. The Executive Council, having reviewed recent discussion, decided that the current round of talks offered the best opportunity for a considerable number of months to make progress on pensions. For this reason, and after careful consideration, the Executive Council has not named further strike dates at present.
The Executive Council is aware that it is difficult and frustrating for members, especially when the full details of negotiations cannot be divulged. However, the aim of the Executive Council is to obtain improved proposals for consideration by members. In this regard, it is important not to underestimate the importance of the Fire Minister’s decision not to proceed with the original DCLG timetable for the laying of the new pension regulations.
Obviously all FBU members would wish to avoid further industrial action if possible. However, such action may be necessary and the Executive Council is clear that all discussions will be planned so at to take account of this potential need. The Executive council will therefore schedule regular meetings so as to review progress or otherwise and take any appropriate action.
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