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Tyne & Wear Fire Authority - Emergency Motion

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Emergency Motion passed by Tyne & Wear Fire Authority

At the meeting of the Tyne & Wear Fire Authority held today, Monday 17th November 2014 at the Service Headquarters, an emergency motion was proposed by Councillor Dave Stockdale from Newcastle and seconded by Councillor Bob Price from Sunderland on the issue of Fire Service Pensions.

Councillor Stockdale stated that the motion was morally right as he believes the Westminster Government's attack on the pensions of Firefighters is extremely unacceptable . Councillor Gary Hayley, councillor from Gateshead stated that it was incorrect for the Westminster Government to call Firefighters pensions generous. The Lib Dems were thunderous in their silence. The two Tories were worried that if the pensions order was annulled what would replace it, the reply was more negotiating and follow the devolved administrations lead! 

The vote was 9 in support of the motion with 3 abstentions, those of the two conservatives and 1 lib Dem who were in attendance.

The emergency motion is below;




Emergency Motion – Firefighters Strike

TWFRA notes:

The Coalition Government’s plans to increase firefighter pension contributions and raise the retirement age of all firefighters  to 60;

The recent breakdown in talks between the Government and unions on this issue;

The subsequent national 4 day fire strike that took place between 31st October and 3rd November 2014;

That strike action on this issue has been avoided in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 The Authority believes:

That firefighters across Tyne and Wear do a brave and heroic job putting at risk their own lives to protect our residents;

That firefighters should be rewarded for this service to the public with a fair pension settlement upon retirement;

That the current Coalition Government plan to force all firefighters to remain in active service to the age of 60 will put at risk the mental wellbeing of firefighters and potentially jeopardises the safety of the public;

That, if the devolved Governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have negotiated a fairer deal, then the Coalition Government can achieve the same for England.

The Authority therefore resolves:

To write to the Fire Minister urging her to enter into urgent negotiations with the Fire Brigades Union in England with a new offer over pension contributions;

To write to Members’ of Parliament representing constituencies within the Tyne and Wear area and urge them to support Early Day Motion 454 (tabled by the Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) which calls on the annulment of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government’s Firefighters' Pension Scheme (England) Regulations 2014;

Proposed:    Councillor David Stockdale

Seconded:   Councillor Bob Price


Report of FBU Officials Meeting - 2014HOC0640MW

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Circular:  2014HOC0640MW




Dear Brother/Sister


Pensions: report of FBU officials' meeting; legal action; Early Day Motion (prayer); Buckinghamshire


On 7 November Officials from all Brigades, Regions and Sections met in Liverpool for an update on the pension campaign and to give feedback. These discussions will be reported back in further detail through Brigade Committee structures to FBU Branches.


The report-back covered all aspects of the Union's work on pensions. The FBU has set out very clearly throughout that there are three essential strands to our campaign; political lobbying and campaigning; legal challenges where possible; and industrial action where necessary. Each of these has an essential role to play and we have explained throughout that it would be a mistake to ignore any of these strands.


Recent Strike Action


Local FBU Officials took the opportunity to report on how the strikes had been supported across English Brigades and to give their views on how different types of action had been received by members. This included a range of views on future action. This type of feedback is essential as the Executive Council is regularly monitoring and assessing the situation and any developments as you would expect.


The Executive Council is considering the next steps in our industrial campaign and the views of local Brigade Committees are an important aspect of any decision making. FBU members will appreciate that there are always a range of views on the question of industrial action and the Executive Council needs to take account of such a range of views as well as seeking to take forward our campaign.


Legal Challenges


A full explanation was given on a legal challenge that the FBU had just submitted in England. Please note that this is simply one of a series of challenges which are being discussed and finalised with our lawyers. This legal challenge focuses on the actuarial reduction that the Westminster Government is suggesting should be applied at age 55. The current DCLG proposal suggests that it should be around 21.8% while the FBU believe it could be much lower if an alternative method was used. The FBU challenge is based on the argument that the current method of working out the reduction at age 55 adopted by DCLG is incorrect.  Officials were given an explanation of how using the method the union is proposing instead of the current one could make a significant difference to the pension benefits of a large number of members, particularly around the age at which benefits could be taken. A more detailed explanation of this is being prepared and will be issued shortly.


It is important to note that it was impossible to progress this legal challenges until we had confirmation that Government had made a decision on these issues. The Government response beforehand (i.e. before the laying of the regulations) was that any legal challenge was premature as no final decision had been taken. By laying the regulations in Parliament, DCLG have given this confirmation andtherefore the next legal steps can be taken on this and other issues.


Political Challenges


Political lobbying and campaigning have been essential throughout the past three years. However, they are particularly important and particularly urgent now. When the regulations were laid in Parliament we began a process of members lobbying MPs to ‘Pray’ against the legislation. This is a rarely used process which seeks to get enough opposition to challenge the Government by various means. This lobbying campaign calls for MPs to sign Early Day Motion (EDM) 454 opposing the legislation. Initially this EDM was tabled by members of the FBU Parliamentary Group but following further lobbying was then supported and sponsored by Hilary Benn MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government). Other frontbench opposition MPs including Lyn Brown (Shadow Fire Minister) have signed the EDM. On Tuesday 11 November the leader of the opposition Ed Miliband signed and became main sponsor of the EDM. To-date the EDM has been supported by 159 MPs, making it the best supported EDM in this session. This is a significant show of opposition against the regulations. The full list of signatories can be seen following this link:


This list is updated regularly. If your MP has not signed please make sure they are contacted. A simple lobbying letter can be accessed on the FBU website


Developments Elsewhere


The Scottish Government has now formally proposed an improvement we have been discussing with them for months. They have confirmed that they will use the method suggested by the FBU for calculating actuarial reductions at age 55 instead of the ones proposed by DCLG. This means that instead of a reduction of 21.8% they are proposing one of 9%. This does worsen the accrual rate to 1/61.6 but the benefits at age 55 for 2015 scheme members are significant. The FBU advisors are currently working on examples to show what this could mean in real terms to scheme members.


The Welsh Government has also confirmed that it will be consulting on options that also include reductions at age 55 which use our suggested method instead of DCLGs. Similar to Scotland these reductions will be 9% instead of 21.8% although the accrual rate in their option is slightly better at 1/61.5. Examples are also being prepared to show what this means in real terms. The Welsh Government have confirmed that they have no preferred option and will respond to the consultation responses received. The FBU will be preparing a response outlining why our suggested methodology should be adopted. As with all public consultation exercises, Firefighters and other members of the public in Wales will be invited to respond. We will be distributing further advice to enable members to understand the differences between the proposals and the potential improvements for FBU members.


Situation in Buckinghamshire


An extremely serious situation has arisen in Buckinghamshire where an FBU member (Bro. Ricky Matthews, who is also FBU Executive Council member for Region 12) has been dismissed for following our lawful call for strike action in the four day strike. This follows claims from the employer that the call for strike action had been made unlawfully. The union took expert legal advice on this issue and we are absolutely confident that the correct and lawful procedure was followed. It is significant to note that no actual legal challenge was made against the union, which would be the mechanism by which an employer would demonstrate (rather than simply claim) that a union had made an error in a call for industrial action.


As members would expect in such circumstances, every effort is being made to address this situation, in full discussion with Bro. Matthews and with other local officials.


Some of this work is necessarily confidential and cannot all be reported on detail at this stage. A fuller report on this issue will be prepared and circulated shortly, including the next steps identified by the Executive Council and discussed with Bro. Matthews.


Best wishes.


Yours fraternally






Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 15:10

Election of Region 3 Executive Council Member

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To: All Members Region 3

Dear Brother/Sister,


I am pleased to inform you that at the closing date for receipt of nominations in the election for Executive Council Member Region 3, Brother Andy Noble has been re-elected to office unopposed.

Best wishes.

Yours fraternally,


General Secretary



Latest firefighters' strike averted in Wales

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Fire Brigades Union press release

Tuesday 28 October 2014

For immediate distribution

Latest firefighters' strike averted in Wales 

Possibility of pension breakthrough means no strike action called for Welsh Firefighters

The fire strike called for the coming weekend in England has been averted in Wales as a result of a significant change of direction by the Welsh government. While the Westminster government continue to ignore the concerns raised by firefighters, the Welsh government have now suggested an improved proposal that could significantly improve the position for a large number of firefighters in Wales. This would involve altering the way firefighters could choose to retire before the age of 60.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 10:18

Latest from Matt Wrack

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Published on Oct 24, 2014

Firefighters have announced a 4 day strike from 31 October - 4 November 2014.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, explains why firefighters are outraged about the governments action

Firefighters announce 4 day strike

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 October 2014 13:15
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