Striking firefighters tackle pensions hypocrisy

FBU people not banksby Tim Lezard

Striking firefighters have responded to claims from government ministers that their pension proposals are generous by reminding them that firefighters pay proportionally more than ministers for a pension.

It is also worth noting that a firefighter’s pension also grows far slower than that of government ministers and that the taxpayer contribution to government ministers’ pensions is significantly more generous than that of firefighters.

Firefighters across England are striking for four days from 6pm this evening in a long-running and bitter dispute about changes to pensions. The FBU argues that the proposals will leave many firefighters at risk of dismissal as their fitness declines as they age into their 50s.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We have a government of millionaires who are wrecking the pensions of firefighters and other public sector workers while the real scandal is that their own pensions are by far the most generous anywhere in the public sector.

“This is a case of those at the top getting more while everyone else is robbed blind. Firefighters are sickened by the government’s “snouts in the trough” approach to this issue.”

The FBU has pointed to a House of Commons report which states:

“At present MPs contribute 37% of the costs of accrual to the pension scheme. This is not far from the typical contribution in future public service schemes, which is 40% from the employee and 60% from the employer. We think it is reasonable to follow the precedent set by other schemes and therefore propose that the 40/60 split should also apply to the MPs’ pension scheme. At a cost of 22.9% of payroll, this would mean that MPs contribute 9.16% of their salaries towards the pension scheme. The taxpayer would contribute 13.74%”

However the balance of costs for firefighters is very different. Firefighters will be paying 49% of the total cost compared with ministers paying just 37%.

Wrack added: “How can it be remotely fair that the Prime Minister, already a millionaire, enjoys a far great subsidy from his employer in absolute and proportional terms, than a firefighter who is earning less than £30,000 a year. It is sickening hypocrisy.”