Assembly calls Mayor to settle Fire Brigade pension dispute

05 November 2014

The London Assembly has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to lobby Government to settle the industrial dispute about firefighters pensions in England.

A motion agreed today [1] accuses Fire Minister Penny Mordant of failing to work towards a negotiated settlement with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) over proposals to increase firefighters retirement age from 55 to 60.

Fiona Twycross AM, who proposed the motion, said:

"Firefighting is dangerous, strenuous work that is vital to protecting Londoners lives and most firefighters will simply not be able to fulfil their roles to the high standards required as they approach sixty years of age.

“The devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have recognised this simple fact and negotiated, in good faith, to find an acceptable settlement with the FBU. Whitehall’s failure to reach a similar fair settlement only serves to inflame a dispute that risks the lives of Londoners.”

The full text of the motion is:

“That the Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked.

“This Assembly also notes that, ahead of recent industrial action, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) not only negotiated in good faith throughout the process but also called off strikes in an effort to bring the dispute to a swift conclusion. However, this Assembly notes that Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt’s failure to work towards a negotiated settlement with firefighters on the issue of pension reform – despite a clear indication that she originally intended to do so – has only inflamed the dispute; a dispute that places the lives of Londoners at risk.

“The proposal at the heart of this dispute – that firefighters should work until they are sixty or see their pension reduced – will cut pension payments to the firefighters who routinely risk their lives protecting the capital. This is reflected by the fact that the Government’s review has demonstrated that two-thirds of the workforce would not be able to work beyond 55, given the strenuous demands of the job.

“This Assembly believes that the Fire Minister’s desire to ‘take on’ the Fire Brigades Union and reduce pension liabilities has precipitated avoidable industrial action; that this strategy has endangered people and property in London; and, as a consequence, the London Assembly calls on the Mayor to lobby his colleagues in Government to resume negotiations with the aim of reaching a fair settlement with the FBU.”

Notes to editors:

The motion was agreed by 16 votes for to 7 against at a meeting of the full Assembly today. Watch the webcast.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.