Cumbria Fire Union to Present Petition to Full Council and Call to Save Cumbria’s Only 999 Fire Control
Cumbria Fire Brigades Union are to present a public petition to a full county council meeting in Kendal on 16 February. The union is also calling for full public consultation over plans to axe the county’s only fire control room.
Of the 20,000 total signatures on the petition, over 3,000 will be presented to the council on Thursday, more than enough to trigger a full debate. The balance will be presented nationally at Westminster at a later date.
A small delegation of FBU members will attend and they will make a short presentation to the meeting.
The council plans to shut its control room in June with the loss of 12 control posts. They plan to move the work to Cheshire fire service’s fire control until 2014.
Staff were only given a week’s notice before the axe plan was put to the Cabinet last year. It was a bolt from the blue as the staff had agreed in December 2010 to the loss of three posts, down to 12, to keep the Cumbria control safe in the aftermath of the collapse of the FireControl Project.
The County Council failed to bid for £1.8 million of central Government funding to upgrade their existing control.
There was no consultation prior to the decision being made, no debate by the full fire authority, and the public and press were excluded when key financial information was discussed at Cabinet.
The national FireControl Project collapsed at a cost of at least £500 million, the planning was a disaster and the technology wouldn’t work. The project, backed by the county council, collapsed costing £500 million, one of the most expensive and disastrous IT projects ever.
Cumbria councillors have signed up to pay for the regional fire control centre without the technology being in place, one of the central fault lines of the defunct FireControl Project. Much is being made of new technology using GPS to direct the movement of fire appliances.
Cumbria FBU brigade secretary Adrian Kevern said “Much is being made of how good the technology is, making all the same claims made for the defunct and disgraced national FireControl Project. Our county is well placed to know that you cannot rely on GPS systems to move your emergency appliances around.
“GPS is useless when roads are blocked by snow, fallen trees after storms or are flooded and unpassable. When bridges are swept away or too damaged to cross your GPS is useless and we are well used to dealing with those scenario’s in Cumbria’s fire control.
“Council explanations for the move lack credibility and we doubt whether the Cabinet ever understood the full implications of the decision it was taking. The County council has not explained when and how they properly considered all of the plans nor subjected them to proper public scrutiny.
“For councillors to say it is enough to have consulted over a previous botched plan that has now been abandoned is absurd. We need proper public scrutiny and consultation, our councillors must think again.”
Ade Kevern (Cumbria)
12 February 2012
Branch reps, please be ready to organize branch meetings between 18-28 February. Further details will be available at the BCM on the 17 February, so it is vital that you attend this.
Branch members, please be aware that you may be asked to attend branch meetings at very short notice. This is unavoidable and your assistence in this matter will be appreciated. We urge you now to make every effort to attend your branch meeting when it is convened.
Mark Stollery – Brigade Secretary
Maurice Whyte – Brigade Chair
Paul Watts – Brigade Organiser
The FBU’s Executive Council has now received the proposals for fire service pensions. We are disappointed that the significant body of evidence presented by the Fire Brigades Union during these discussions appears to have been ignored.
We believe these proposals to be unacceptable in that they include:
- Unaffordable and unfair contribution rates.
- A totally unrealistic retirement age for firefighters.
- An unsustainable scheme for the fire service.
The Executive Council will now consult members through branches and our committee structure. The Executive Council recommends that there is a rapid move to prepare a strike ballot and that further discussion should finalise the details of this. The Executive Council will meet again in three weeks, after consulting members, to consider developments.
We remain committed to maintaining dialogue and hope that the government will now resolve the matter through properly engaging on the issues raised during discussions.
The government also published a Written Ministerial Statement.
FBU Says Pensions Proposals are “Unacceptable”, Move To Consult Fire Crews and Recommend Rapid Move to Prepare a National Strike Ballot
The Fire Brigades Union says the Government’s pension proposals are unacceptable and are consulting fire crews with a recommendation there is a rapid move to prepare a strike ballot. The union says it is committed to further dialogue and called on Government to address the issues raised and evidence provided by the union rather than ignoring them.
The proposals are unacceptable in that they include:
- Unaffordable and unfair contribution rates
- A totally unrealistic retirement age for firefighters (60)
- An unsustainable scheme for the fire service.
Contribution rates are set to rise by 2014 from 11% to between 14.2% for firefighters and up to 16% for fire service officers. They face EXTRA payments of between £2,000 and £7,200 over the next three years alone.
Over the next three years wholetime firefighters will pay an extra £2,000, watch managers £2,700, station managers £4,000, fires service group managers up to £7,200.
FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: “These are unfair and unaffordable contribution hikes. We’re facing five years of a pay freeze and a pay squeeze at a time of serious inflation.
“There is a real danger these huge hikes will trigger an exodus from the scheme. That means a drop in the money coming and less to pay for pensions going out.
“The entire scheme could rapidly become unstable leaving the taxpayer to fill the gap. Instead of savings the taxpayer will be paying more money.
“A pension age of 60 for firefighters is unrealistic and that is obvious to all of us. Everyone in the fire service is saying that 60 year olds can’t work as frontline fire crews.
“We never rush into a ballot for national strike action and have constructively engaged in all talks. We need Government to start addressing the evidence we have presented them which supports all we are saying.”
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What it will mean:
From 2015 in the proposed new scheme the Government’s current proposals would mean:
- Firefighters will pay £900 more than they do now EVERY year
- Watch managers will pay £1,200 more than they do now EVERY year
- Station managers will pay £1,900 more than they do now EVERY year
- Group managers will pay £2,500 more than they do now EVERY year
- Area managers will pay £3,000 more than they do now EVERY year.
*all figures are for those with a ‘protected’ normal retirement age for those in the main Firefighters Pensions Scheme at today’s pay rates.
Firefighters in other schemes will also be paying more. One of the biggest hikes is for those in the New (2006) scheme who face increases from 8.5% now to 13.2% in the scheme the Government plans to be in place by 2015. It means their contributions rising from £2,820 a year currently to £3,722 every a jump of £1,325 a year more
Retained firefighters on £10,000 pensionable pay would pay £470 a year more than today.
Head of Communications and Research
Fire Brigades Union
9th February 2012
To: All members London
Cc: Regional Officials
Members have been notified of the industrial action following the ballot for action short of a strike.
As the person authorised to make the call for industrial action I confirm that continues to be the position but, in addition, from 09:30 hours on 16th February 2012 the following will also apply as part of the ongoing action short of a strike:
- A ban on all new, voluntary acting-up by watch-based members at their own stations/workplaces.
This is the action which has been determined upon. We hope the matter will be resolved shortly. If not, any further forms of action to be called in respect of this ongoing industrial action will be notified once determined. Members are now instructed to take continuous industrial action as specified above and previously and any further action to be so notified. In the case of the additional action set out above this is to commence from and not earlier than 09.30 hours on 16th February 2012.
6 February 2012
TO: ALL MEMBERS (CONTROL)
You may be aware that the Government intends to issue a medal to commemorate the forthcoming Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We understand that the medal is due to be issued to all emergency service staff who have completed five years service. There are a range of views within the Union regarding the issuing of medals and regarding the Jubilee, however, what the Executive Council has firmly argued is that Fire and Rescue staff working in Emergency Fire Control should be treated equally with other uniformed staff. As we have said in other regards, we are all ‘Part of the Team’.
We have raised our concerns at this issue with the CLG Fire Minister. Unfortunately we have not so far been successful on this front. We subsequently raised the matter at the National Joint Council last week and I am pleased to report that the Employers side supported our view and agreed to submit a joint letter on the subject. That will now be done and I will inform you of the outcome.