SYFBU

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South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union

Brigade Organiser

25 Grove Road
Sheffield S17 4DJ

Tel: 07966 053184
E-mail: info@syfbu.org.uk

 

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Welcome to South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union website.

IMPORTANT PENSION INFORMATION-ALL MEMBERS

IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT CAN AVOID DETRIMENTAL RETROSPECTIVE CHANGES TO FIREFIGHTERS’ PENSIONS IN ENGLAND

 

Please read the following information which will also be placed on the FBU website for the attention of Retired and Out Of Trade (ROOT) FBU members. If you have a network of ROOT members please use that to communicate this circular.

 

It is often assumed that amendments cannot be made to the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes if they would worsen the position of members who have already retired or left the fire and rescue service. In fact that is not the case, but pensioners and deferred pensioners (i.e. members who have left but are not yet receiving a pension) can protect their position if they write to their former Fire and Rescue Authority.

 

This has become an issue for members of the firefighters’ pension schemes because two Amendment Orders were made last year, which amend the rules of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (FPS) and the rules of the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (NFPS). These amendments may worsen the position of some pensioners and deferred pensioners. If you think you may be affected you need to write to your former Fire and Rescue Authority.

What has changed?

 

The Orders referred to above made a long list of changes to the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (FPS) called the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (Amendment) (No. 2) (England) Order 2013. A parallel Order was made to make some of the same changes to the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (NFPS), confusingly called the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2013. The changes which might have a detrimental impact on pensioners and deferred pensioners are set out below.

The two Orders only apply to firefighters whose last employer was an English Fire and Rescue Authority. Similar Orders are likely to be made in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in due course.

 

The changes affect members who are still contributing to the FPS or the NFPS, and also to members who have already retired or left the fire and rescue service. The only members who can protect their position from the effects described below are members who retired or left before 1 July 2013. These changes affect all other members too, but the law does not give them the same right to protection.

 

 

Changes that affect members of the FPS only

 

  1. Abatement

Under the FPS and the NFPS, a member is able to retire and draw their pension and pension lump sum, and then return to work with the same or another Fire and Rescue Authority. Until the rules were amended by the Amendment Order, their pension was liable to be reduced or “abated”, but only if they returned to work for a Fire and Rescue Authority as a regular firefighter. Abatement means that the pension is reduced to the extent that their new salary, added to their pension, does not exceed the salary of their pre-retirement job. If the member is a member of the NFPS, this abatement rule also applies if the new job is any job with a Fire and Rescue Authority.

 

The amendment to the FPS means that this principle of abatement will apply if a member takes their pension and pension lump sum, and then returns to any employment with any Fire and Rescue Authority in any capacity. In other words, their position is now the same as a member of the NFPS.

 

That means that members of the FPS are placed in a worse position than before: they cannot return to work in any job with a Fire and Rescue Authority without risking abatement. That includes working as a retained firefighter.

 

Moreover, this change is stated to have retrospective effect to 25 September 2009. This means that anyone who is already receiving an FPS pension, and who has already taken up work as a retained firefighter or work in a non-Grey Book job with a Fire and Rescue Authority, is now at risk of having their pension abated.

 

  • If you are a pensioner member of the FPS and you have returned to work with a Fire and Rescue Authority as a retained firefighter or in a non-Grey Book job, you need to write to the authority in order to protect your position.
  • If you are a pensioner member or a deferred pensioner member and you think you may one day return to the fire and rescue service as a retained firefighter or in a non-Grey Book job you are also potentially affected, and you too should write to protect your position.
  1. Deferred pensions: early payment on ill-health grounds

If you leave the fire and rescue service before reaching your normal pension age, you cannot normally draw your pension until you reach the Scheme’s deferred pension age. In the FPS that is age 60.

 

It is possible to draw your deferred pension before reaching age 60 if the reason for doing so is the state of your health. In the FPS, a deferred pensioner is entitled to early payment if he or she is permanently disabled to the extent that he or she would not be able to perform the duties of his or her former role. In the NFPS the barrier is higher: the member must be permanently disabled from undertaking any employment.

 

Under the Amendment Order that applies to the FPS, the barrier has been raised to the same level as already exists under the NFPS. If you are a deferred pensioner member of the FPS, in the future you will not be able to draw your pension before age 60 unless you are not capable of performing any employment. If you were a deferred pensioner, and you are now getting your pension because you are not capable of working as a firefighter, your pension may now be reviewed against the new higher threshold and your pension might be terminated.

 

 

  • If you are a deferred member of the FPS, and if you are suffering from ill-health or think you may suffer from ill-health before reaching age 60 that might permanently affect your ability to work, you should write to your former Fire and Rescue Authority to protect your position.
  • If you are already receiving your pension and the reason is that you were a deferred pensioner but your pension has been paid early because of the state of your health, you are also affected and you should write to protect your position.

Members of the FPS and members of the NFPS

 

  1. Additional Pension Benefits (APBs) for continual professional development and long service increments

The basis on which continual professional development (CPD) and long service increment (LSI) payments are counted as pensionable is complex. In short, an amount of pension is awarded for any LSI you were receiving before it was scrapped, and for any CPD payments you receive each year. Each year’s payments are taken on their own: CPD and LSI do not form part of the final salary that is used to calculate your pension. These additional annual blocks of pension are called “additional pension benefits” or APBs. The amount of APB earned each year is increased in line with inflation until you retire, at which point the APBs, as increased, are paid at the same time as your main pension.

 

Until recently, the inflation measure used to uprate APBs was the increase in the retail prices index (RPI). Under the Amendment Orders, the index used will be the consumer prices index (CPI), and CPI increases are generally lower than the RPI.

 

This change also has retrospective effect, so that the indexation uplifts added in the tax years 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 have been changed to the CPI. The increase in the RPI was higher than the increase in the CPI in each of these three years.

 

  • If you are a pensioner who retired after 11 April 2011 and received APBs in any of the years 2010 - 2013, you need to write to protect your position.
  • If you are a deferred member and will receive APBs for these years when you draw your pension, you also need to write to protect your position.

What to do next

 

If you think you may be affected by these changes you should treat these issues as urgent. You must write to your former Fire and Rescue Authority before 30 September 2014 to protect your position.

 

A draft letter is attached which you can use. Send it to your former Fire and Rescue Authority. Don’t forget to date the letter, and please ensure that you keep a copy for your records.

 

Yours in Unity,

 

 

 

SEAN STARBUCK
National Officer

 

 

 

SS/EMH


 

 

 

 

To the Chief Fire Officer

[Name and address of your former Fire and Rescue Authority]

 

 

Dear

 

THE FIREFIGHTERS’ PENSION SCHEME (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) (ENGLAND) ORDER 2013

THE FIREFIGHTERS’ PENSION SCHEME (ENGLAND) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) ORDER 2013

 

In accordance with Article 3 of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (Amendment) (No.3) Order 2013, I elect that any provision of the above two Orders which places me in a worse position than I would have been in if the Orders had not been made, shall not apply to me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

…………………………………..

 

 

Dated …………………………...

FBU NEWS FLASH

 

FOR THE INFORMATION OF ALL FBU MEMBERS

 

CPC

 

Following an Emergency Brigade Committee meeting held today, SYFBU have now lodged a dispute with SYFR. Specifically, over the introduction date of the proposed Close Proximity Crewing trial.

 

The Brigade Committee are disappointed that genuine concerns over potential cost burdens have yet to be adequately addressed by SYFR.

 

Brigade Committee members acknowledge the financial constraints placed upon managers and Authority’s by DCLG. Our remit is member’s terms and conditions, which include the future viability of our pension scheme.

 

To that end, we feel it necessary to re-iterate that the information obtained from the government actuaries department (GAD) shows a need for further examination of the cost issues for ALL serving and future firefighters.

 

On Monday SYFBU proposed to SYFR that we jointly refer the matter to the National Joint Council’s Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) for their consideration. As we have not received a response, we are now submitting our own independent referral to TAP on behalf of the Brigade Committee.

 

We have been informed that a meeting has been called on Monday 24th March for members who have volunteered to work the CPC system. The advice of the FBU is that members should not be signing up to individual contractual arrangements. We are of the opinion that any changes to conditions, specifically duty systems, should be by way of a collective agreement with the Fire Brigades union.

 

UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL

ALL MEMBERS CIRCULAR REGARDING BUYING BACK PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS

                                                

TO:     ALL MEMBERS

 

Dear Brother/Sister,

 

BUYING BACK PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS FOR PERIODS OF STRIKE ACTION

 

We understand that members in some fire and fire and rescue services have been informed by their employer that they will not be given an opportunity to buy back their contributions until after the conclusion of the trade dispute and at that time that members must register their wish to do so within 6 months of that date.

 

Such advice where given by a fire and rescue authority is inaccurate and may be based on a simple misreading of the regulations.

 

The accurate position is that members of the pension schemes will be entitled to buy back their lost service within six months having returned to duty following any period of absence (other than in respect of maternity, paternity or adoption leave) and must do so within six months of the return.

 

The specific rule in the 1992 Scheme is now to be found in Rule F2(3), as amended in 2006:

 

(3) A regular firefighter may, by written notice given to his employing authority within six months of returning to duty after a period of absence without pay (excluding absence for maternity, paternity or adoption leave), require them to reckon as pensionable service all or part of that period (the “reckonable period”).*

 

The specific rule in the 2006 Scheme is to be found in part 10 rule 4:

 

4.—(1) A firefighter member may reckon as pensionable service all or part of a period of absence without pay if he elects to pay the pension contributions that he and his 3 employing authority would have paid in accordance with Parts 11 and 13 in respect of that period if it had been a period of absence with pay.

 

(2) An election under paragraph (1) is to be made by written notice given to the employing authority not later than six months from the end of the period of absence without pay for which contributions are due.*

 

We are conscious that some members may have not registered their wish to buy back the pensionable service and that the opportunity to do so in respect of the earlier periods of strike action is extremely tight.

Therefore, if you wish to buy back the pension for the periods of strike action taken you are strongly advised to write to their employer by letter or via any regular internal memorandum protocol expressing the desire to do so without delay.

 

A template wording which has been checked with our legal advisers is attached for you to use. Ensure that you keep a copy of your letter and also, if possible, submit a copy of the letter attached to an email. This wording is should be used irrespective of which of the two firefighter pension schemes you are a member.

 

Please do ensure that the content of this circular is brought to the attention of all colleagues particularly those who may be off-duty at the time of receipt. A copy of this circular and the template letter is available on the FBU website: www.fbu.org.uk

 

In the event of further periods of strike action which takes place after the submission of the letter you submit at this time a further letter will need to be submitted at the time.

Yours fraternally,

  

DAVE GREEN

National Officer

 

*members returning to duty following maternity, paternity or adoption leave are covered by Rule G2A of the FPS and Part 11, rule 4 of the NFPS. If they are absent as a result of unpaid maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave when the six month period expires, they must give the required notice within 30 days of their return to work after their maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave. There is no necessity to wait until then however.

www.img.fbu.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Template-letter-to-buy-back-pensionable-service.doc

Ahead of this weekend’s industrial action we have received the following message of support from the FBU’s Parliamentary Group:

 

The FBU Parliamentary Group pledge their continued support in your fight to protect the pensions you deserve. The Government should address all eight points of this trade dispute; recognise the Williams Report evidence on age and fitness and the danger to the public of expecting firefighters to work into their late fifties; and guarantee no dismissals on capability grounds. The Group will be doing everything in its power to build maximum support within Parliament to ensure you are properly recognised and rewarded for your invaluable role.

 

To remind you, the group is made up of the following MP’s (Secretary is John McDonnell and Chair is Kate Hoey):

 

  1. David Anderson                                 Blaydon
  2. Roberta Blackman-Woods                City of Durham
  3. Tom Blenkinsop                                Middlesbrough S. & Cleveland E.
  4. Jenny Chapman                                Darlington
  5. Katy Clark                                         Ayrshire North & Arran
  6. Michael Connarty                              Linlithgow & Falkirk East
  7. Rosie Cooper                                    Lancashire West
  8. Jeremy Corbyn                                 Islington North
  9. Jon Cruddas                                      Dagenham and Rainham
  10. John Cryer                                        Leyton & Wanstead
  11. Alex Cunningham                              Stockton North
  12. Tony Cunningham                             Workington
  13. Nic Dakin                                           Scunthorpe
  14. Ian Davidson                                     Glasgow South West
  15. Frank Doran                                      Aberdeen North
  16. Robert Flello                                      Stoke-on-Trent South
  17. Nia Griffith                                         Llanelli
  18. David Hamilton                                  Midlothian
  19. Kate Hoey                                         Vauxhall
  20. Kelvin Hopkins                                  Luton North
  21. Ian Lavery                                         Wansbeck
  22. Kerry McCarthy                                Bristol East
  23. John McDonnell                                Hayes & Harlington
  24. Jim McGovern                                  Dundee West
  25. Austin Mitchell                                   Great Grimsby
  26. Grahame Morris                                Easington
  27. George Mudie                                   Leeds East
  28. Linda Riordan                                    Halifax
  29. Dennis Skinner                                  Bolsover
  30. Karl Turner                                        Hull East
  31. Joan Walley                                       Stoke-on-Trent North
  32. Chris Williamson                                Derby North
  33. Mike Wood                                        Batley & Spen

Write to your MP on pensions

September 2, 2013

Now that FBU members have voted 4:1 in favour of a national strike over attacks on pensions, all our efforts are focused on convincing the government to return to the negotiating table and find an agreement that is safe and fair for everyone.

You can help with this work by writing to your MP asking them to pressure government to keep talking.

You can download template letters below to adapt and use. There are different versions for firefighters, retired members and members of the public.

You can find your MPs name and contact details by entering your postcode at  www.theyworkforyou.com.

The second link will enable you to  email the template letter to your local MP via our website

Firefighters: Download Letter for firefighters. | Email letter for firefighters

Retired Firefighters:Download Letter for retired firefighters. | Email letter for Retired Firefighters
Member of the Public: Download Letter for members of the public. | Email letter for a Member of the Public

FBU members pension survey 2012

November 12, 2012

The government is still planning to change firefighters’ pensions. Its current proposals affect how much firefighters will pay, the age we work to and how much we get during retirement. The Fire Brigades Union has commissioned the independent polling organisation YouGov to survey members about these changes. The union wants members’ views on the changes. All of responses are private and confidential. The data will only be analysed at an aggregated level and no individuals can be identified. Please complete the survey here.

South Yorkshire Brigade Officials Statement:

 

Following a request from SYFR to refer all matters of the Trade Dispute to the National Joint Secretaries for conciliation SYFBU can confirm that these talks have now concluded with NO agreement reached!!

 

SYFR asked the FBU to attend the talks when FBU members had shown their anger to the continued attack on their Jobs, their Health &

Safety and their Terms and Conditions, by way of an overwhelming decision to ballot for industrial action!

 

The position at the end of the conciliation talks was weighted heavily towards SYFR. SYFR rather than use this opportunity to have meaningful talks on a way forward that would resolve all the issues for both sides, used it to insist that more of our members terms and conditions were brought to the table for ‘REVIEW

 

SYFR insisted that the matter of our members LEAVE and MOVEMENT of PERSONNEL were put under review, ALTERNATIVE SHIFT PATTERNS should be revisited and that not one but TWO SIU’s should be brought into the brigade with a MINIMUM rider of THREE.

 

SYFBU entered into these talks in good faith with the understanding that SYFR were in a position to negotiate all the disputed issues within the trade dispute. It is clear that SYFR senior managers neither had the authority nor the will to make any concessions to resolve the Trade Dispute.

 

Conciliation talks concluded with SYFBU Brigade and Regional Officials agreeing to present the proposal from SYFR to the FBU Brigade Committee.

 

SYFBU Brigade Committee met yesterday at an Emergency Meeting. The proposal presented to them was discussed and deliberated on in great detail and after lengthy consideration the Brigade Committee felt able to concede to SYFR’s requests on the majority of the areas within the proposal with huge emphasis on improved Industrial relations.

 

However should the FBU Brigade Committee have agreed to the proposal in full, it would have been duty-bound to compromise on issues relating to H&S and further job losses. Therefore the FBU Brigade Committee in an attempt to reach agreement made a request to SYFR, that they agree to a change to one area of the proposal, to ensure that the FBU’s duty to protect its members Health, Safety & Welfare and its duty to protect jobs, was not compromised.

 

SYFR have REJECTED this request therefore, SYFBU have now been forced to return to the original decision by our members to progress the ballot for industrial action. The decision that now needs to be taken is on the recommendation to make to the General Secretary in relation to this.

 

 

ALL FBU members MUST attend Branch meetings to get the latest updates.

SYFR SHOW DISREGARD FOR TRADE DISPUTE PROTOCOLS

It has been brought to the FBU’s attention that once again some SYFR managers are attending stations and discussing issues that are contained within the FBU trade dispute. This has previously been highlighted to Brigade Officials, for this to be reported again can only be viewed as SYFR attempting to circumvent the dispute process.

 

As part of the conciliation process it is the understanding of the FBU that there is a ‘condition’ agreed by both parties whereby issues contained within the trade dispute will not be progressed while ever that conciliation is ongoing. The FBU have in good faith abided by this condition.

 

We are informed that these Managers are passing on the disappointment of some of our FBU members to other station personnel, that disappointment is based on the level of the information getting out to FBU members. The FBU would like to thank SYFR for acknowledging the disappointment of our members as this only serves to prove that the FBU are indeed abiding by the agreement, however for clarity for those managers, ALL FBU members will be informed immediately should there be changes to any of the areas contained within the FBU trade dispute.

 

To reiterate whilst the trade dispute is live and discussions are ongoing, there is no agreement until all issues have been discussed and agreed and therefore NO issue that is a matter of the trade dispute should be up for discussion or suggested alternatives be mooted elsewhere outside of the Joint Secretaries arena..

 

In light of this, if any FBU member feels that they are being involved in any discussions that form part of the trade dispute, they should refer those responsible to the facts as stated above and should refrain from participating in those discussions. They should also inform an FBU official immediately.

 

The FBU have today written to senior managers informing them of their disappointment in regards to their conduct.

  South Yorkshire Brigade Officials Statement:

 

It has been brought to our attention that FBU member’s that are involved in the current ‘supervisory progression process’ have yesterday received letters from SYFR informing them that this process is to be suspended.

 

The FBU can confirm that discussions are currently taking place regarding the payment of travel expenses on promotion which is a part of member’s current terms and conditions, and is a longstanding policy which has previously been agreed by both parties.

 

The FBU can confirm that this policy affects ALL FBU members whether they are part of the current promotion process or part of any future promotion process.

 

During discussions it was viewed by the FBU that there wasn’t the need for any postponement or suspension of the current process while this contractual matter continued to be discussed, however SYFR have chosen to proceed with this action and to issue letters to that effect.

Control Member LGPS Update

Control members’ consultative ballot on pensions

July 20, 2012

The FBU is holding a consultative ballot for our control members in England and Wales who belong to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). The union’s executive council believes government proposals are still unacceptable – especially on working to 68 and the way pensions are accrued and revalued for inflation. The union is asking control members to consider our concerns and discuss the proposals through our democratic structures, before casting your vote. The issues are explained in this circular. Consultative ballot papers will be sent to control members’ home addresses during the first week of August.

SYFBU