Letters painted inaccurate picture of the fire and rescue service as well as the reasons for dispute
Two letters in response to the Trades Council press release of November 2, which was published as a letter in your November 7 edition, present a pretty inaccurate picture of both the fire and rescue service and the reasons for the dispute.
The firefighters were on strike because the government, having issued a consultation document on the future of the Firefighter’s Pensions scheme earlier in the year, chose to ignore all the responses of the Fire Brigades Union and decided to impose its original proposals.
If anyone was being held to ransom it was the firefighters who were being told to accept that they will have to pay more into their pension scheme for less benefit or opt out and lose their pension.
Imagine a private pension company behaving in this way; there would be cries of pension mis-selling and pension fraud ringing round all sides of parliament.
All the FBU was seeking was negotiation. That is hardly holding the nation to ransom.
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Most public sector pension schemes contain a clause whereby if over the age of 55 someone had to leave employment on the grounds of efficiency of the service, through no fault of their own, they may be able to access their pension.
It reflects that over the age of 55 the likelihood of finding work on a similar income is very poor.
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It is a form of insurance scheme for employees working in a job where there are strict physical fitness requirements which have to be met every year.
We are saddened by the tone of both letters. While it is true the fire service attracts a lot of potential recruits it is not because it is an easy job.
While the only academic qualification is five GCSEs including Maths and English A*-C, there are strenuous physical and aptitude tests to be completed before starting a four-month training course and a 24-month probationary period.
Only after passing all that, and serving a further three years, is a recruit confirmed as a qualified firefighter.
Treasurer and FBU delegate to Trades Council