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  • "It is quite common for people to react to this pension dispute by implying that because 'they' don't have such a good pension, everyone else (particularly those in the Public Sector) should have theirs devalued to bring them in line. It would be a better use of their energy to campaign for improvements to their own pension arrangements rather than attack those of others.
    A higher pension premium to allow earlier retirement is fine - if you can then retire early! Bear in mind that early retirement in this profession has a sound basis; it is physically arduous and early death rates post retirement are very high. The fact is that the pension costs are not reducing by the imposition of a higher normal pension age - they are in fact going up, whereas the final pension is being decreased. Hence 'work longer/pay more/get less! It is a straightforward calculation yes; the T&C's are being made worse.
    The choice to join the Fire Service is no different to the choice made to work in Tesco, drive a train or become cabin crew; when you join any profession you accept it's terms and conditions, you also expect that your employer will meet their own commitments to you based on the contract you signed. It would be unacceptable for an employee to sign a 42 hour contract, then autonomously decide to only work 35 hours because petrol prices have gone up and saving a day of petrol a week makes personal sense. Put another way; if you went to MacDonalds and paid for a Big Mac, you wouldn't accept a Hamburger because of an Irish beef crisis - that's MacDonalds problem, not yours!
    Your 4th point is questionable; statistics can be made to say whatever you like - they are currently being used to justify the proposed downgrade of Fire Cover in H&W. Statistics were also used as a means of downgrading Kidderminster Hospital, which was also folly because Worcester can't now cope with its patient levels. The fact remains that when YOU are running out of your housefire, THEY will be running into it. That doesn't necessarily justify a better pension, but when its your butt on fire it DOES justify an appropriately funded Service to ensure a well resources, well trained and physically able workforce - the pension arrangements are part of that 'deal'. Firefighters die - FACT - and cuts cost lives; thise of the public AND those of the crews.
    There are NO redeployment opportunities for firefighters unable to do their job due to 'capability'. In a world of funding cuts the 'backroom' functions have been cut to the bone, the frontline crews are next. Part of the pensions dispute is centred on 'no job, no pension'; anyone failing to maintain the required fitness standard (and where no redeployment opportunity exists - and there aren't any remember!), can be dismissed under 'capability' - in this case they will have no income and their pension payments will be deferred until normal state pension age. That might mean being forced out at 55, with no income whatsoever until state pension age at (rising to) 68! Thats 13 years with no income or access to the pension that has been paid into.
    Your final comments show which side of the political line you fall, the point being however that if ANY government tackled the issue with any force there would be no need for any of US to be footing the bill for either the 'Global Financial Crisis' or, better put, the bankers who put greed before ethics supported by their political allies.
    You're right, the Fire Service is not the Armed Forces, but they both hold the front line in an emergency. You seem to be suggesting that it would be ok to pillage the pensions of one, but not the other; clearly a daft argument. I think the comparison I made was clear; there when you need them, not if you undermine or destroy them.
    In simple terms, its a money-grab from a government that would rather see all of us work until we are dead, paying taxes and pumping money into pension pots for them to spend on other things instead of us costing them anything. The Fire Service pension issue is specific to them, but the tip of a giant iceberg for everyone else.
    I don't know what you do for a living, but find a context in your own working life and ask youself; would you roll over and have your tummy ticled, or would you stand up and try to fend off changes that negatively affect you, your livelihood, your family and your retirement period - which you'd probably like to be as long as possible?!"
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Firefighters due to strike tomorrow

First published in News Evesham Journal: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

MEMBERS of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are due to take part in strike action on two separate occasions this month, with the first set to begin tomorrow.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the first part of industrial action was to take place between 9am tomorrow and 9am Friday.

The second part of the strike will take place between 10am and 5pm on Saturday, June 21.

A dispute relating to proposed changed to firefighters' pensions between the FBU and central government has led to the action.

Area Commander Keith Chance, head of operations support for the service, said: “While the industrial action is ongoing we will still be responding to 999 calls but we will be asking members of the public to take extra steps to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out in their home.

“This is the first 24-hour strike being taken by the FBU during this dispute and we appreciate that members of the public may be concerned by this. However, I would like to reassure them that we will have plans in place to cover this strike period.”

A spokeswoman for the fire service said: “This is obviously a serious situation, both for the service and for all individuals concerned, and the service hopes that there will be continued dialogue between the union and government over the coming days to prevent strike action taking place.

“If strike action takes place on these dates it will result in a significant reduction of the service’s available resources.

“This reduced fire cover is likely to provide a basic service and will aim to prioritise the most urgent calls ahead of other responses.

“This plan was invoked during periods of industrial action last year and earlier this year.”

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