Penny Mordaunt is putting all our lives at risk by forcing firefighters to strike

Picket line: FBU members on strike in June this year.

Picket line: FBU members on strike in June this year.

You know the government is on a sticky wicket when its only response to strike action over pensions is that its position is “fair”.

The Fire Brigades Union will be on strike for three hours every day up to and including August 16 after the new fire minister, Penny Mordaunt, cancelled a meeting.

The Conservative-led Coalition government is hitting firefighters with a double-barrelled attack:

  • Firstly, it is raising the level of contributions firefighters must make to their pensions, meaning they will have less pay in their pockets;
  • And it is also raising the age of retirement from 55 to 60, meaning fewer firefighters are likely ever to receive a pension as many members may fail the fitness test required to remain on active duty, and would have to leave the service – without qualifying for a pension – as a result.

If firefighters opted to retire early, the resulting reduction in their pension payments would be “unacceptably high” to the union.

“Government proposals as they stand include a number of unacceptable elements including firefighters being forced to work until 60 – an age at which the enormous physical demands of the job are beyond most of us. Both sides have identified that there are possible solutions to these issues but the Government is unwilling to amends its proposals,” said FBU Assistant General Secretary Andy Dark yesterday (Friday).

He made sure to lay the blame exactly where it belonged: “Firefighters hate striking. We believe that Winston Churchill was right to say ’Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.’ That is why we are astounded by the cancellation of the last-minute talks by Ms Mordaunt on Thursday.

“It is a bitter disappointment that she cancelled them and made this series of strikes inevitable.”

The government’s only response has been a claim that its irresponsible demands are “fair”.

No doubt there will be many government stooges who are keen to say firefighters are placing people in danger by taking this action. They are silly, silly people.

It is the government that is endangering us all, by putting firefighters in an impossible position.

These Tories are telling firefighters to contribute more to a fund from which they may never benefit.

They are saying that, if they want their pension but their fitness is failing, they’ll have to fake it for the extra years – putting untold numbers of future fire victims and people in need of rescue in extra danger. This would also bring the service into disrepute.

And they are telling people who want to be firefighters not to bother – that they will be putting their lives at risk for an ever-diminishing reward.

By doing so, the Tories and their little yellow friends the Tory Democrats are putting all of our lives at risk.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. annak53 August 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Well said Mike. Your account really tells it how it is

    Unfortunately, the public either don’t know what’s going on or don’t care. Perhaps it will take a fatality within their family circle to make them realise exactly how much firefighters are worth and how this unelected government are screwing them to the ground. government.

    The pitiful number of signatures on these petitions really speak for themselves.

    Wake up people!!! (petition link within write up)

    Thanks Mike for raising an awareness of this corrupt unelected government’s effort to screw the fire fighters and fire service into oblivion. I hope people will respond as their conscience dictates.

  2. Pensions in the UK from all sources are under attack by government today, unless you are a politician, when the phrase used when pensions changes do not effect MPs is ‘protected from reforms’ (Source House of Commons Library). Women MPs kept pension payout if turned 60 from 2012, whereas women lost payout at 60 from 2013.

    Soldiers are made redundant only short weeks before sufficient service to get full military pension.

    This copies what happened to the Second World War Veterans, who lost military pension (and never got it) until Labour passed the 1975 law that guaranteed pension so people like me dad got his military pension retiring after 1975, that the Tories revoked in 1993 and Labour did not bring back in 13 years of rule til 2010.

    Firefighters retiring at 60, will not get their state pension til 66, rising soon to 68, to all men born since 1951.

    The wife / partner is losing state pension til 66 for all women born since 1953.

    As there are 23 million over 50s in UK today, who are the ones who vote the most, and are not the well off people in the majority as portrayed in the media and by parliament, then they represent the best chance of a landslide, majority government in 2015 for Labour.

    Perhaps Labour MPs and members could persuade Miliband and Balls to revoke all the Pension Bills since 2010, which got completely worse with the law of 2014?

  3. Smiling Carcass August 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Let’s not forget also that the fire service is a public service publicly funded and we all know what this cruelition think of public services they have to contribute towards.

    • Vicky O'Brien August 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      The firefighters pension is a self funding one and was massively in credit till Brown ransacked it.
      The reason for this is the life expectancy of a retired firefighter is below national average so money was left in the pot.
      This is all a giant smokescreen for the tories to discredit the service cut and cut till its not fit for purpose and them they can privatise it. Look how well that’s gone in the past.

      • Mike Sivier August 13, 2014 at 8:30 am - Reply

        Like the NHS at the moment? Good point.
        BROWN ransacked the firefighters’ pension pot, did he? Looks like I’ll be saying “citation needed” on that one! The rule here is that, if you make a contentious remark you need to support it with references.

      • Smiling Carcass August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am - Reply

        Exactly my point; a public service in the firing line of Tory privatisation to save them tax.

  4. val.b August 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Very good article about a very important topic. Have signed the petition and will encourage others to also.

  5. Chris K. August 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    Why is it that whenever firemen are on strike they always have to set fire to something, even in the summertime? Are they so bored waiting for a fire to occur that they have to remind themselves what one looks like.

    • Mike Sivier August 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      I get the impression you’re concentrating on the wrong thing, there.

    • annak53 August 16, 2014 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Dear me – what on earth are you talking about Chris K.?

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