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Support the firefighters
Pensions strike and demo, 25 February
Firefighters in the FBU union will be striking for 24 hours from 7am on 25 February in their battle against government changes to pensions. A national FBU demonstration is also taking place in Central London the same day.
Dave Pitt, a West Midlands firefighter and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) prospective parliamentary candidate for Dudley North, spoke to the Socialist.
"The national demonstration is being held to highlight the lies Tory fire minister Penny Mordaunt told other MPs to win a parliamentary vote in favour of the new pensions deal. This changes firefighters' retirement age from 55 to 60.
At an FBU recall conference, every local brigade said they wish to continue the union's campaign on pensions. There was a varied response over how much strike action we should take. The executive council resolution unified all the brigades there by stating the union would take strike action if necessary, including striking alongside other unions. This starts with the 24-hour strike on 25 February.
Mordaunt said she can guarantee that no firefighter will have to take a reduced pension if they retire before 60 because of failing a fitness test. After the FBU wrote to the local fire authorities to seek these legal guarantees, every authority that's replied said there is no such legal guarantee in place. Such a guarantee would be unlawful as it needs the amendment of the pension regulations, which only the government can do - and of course they've not.
The pension changes are coming in this April 2015, however it won't mean our campaign is finished. The regulations can be changed by whichever government is in office. Part of the executive's resolution is to seek assurances between now and the next general election- but they are yet to be given to us.
It was the previous Labour government that first proposed changing the retirement age to 60 anyway, though without such massive pension reductions for early retirement due to bad health. We must be ready to continue the campaign into the next parliament even if there is a Labour government.
Labour-controlled fire authorities, like the West Midlands, are also carrying out massive cuts. Similarly, Leicestershire fire authority - where Labour is the biggest group - looks set to make £7.5 million of cuts and the first compulsory sackings in the fire service since World War Two. I believe an alternative is needed and I am standing as a TUSC candidate."
FBU national protest, Westminster
25 February, 12 noon
Methodist Central Hall, Storeys Gate, London SW1 9NH
In The Socialist 18 February 2015:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party congress
International socialist news and analysis
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party comments and reviews