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									LONDON REGION FBU                                                       7 MARCH 2008

London Region FBU, John Horner Mews, Frome Street, LONDON N1 8PB. Tel: 020-7359-3638

            PENSIONS FIGHT:
  FBU leader tells London members to prepare for action

       t was standing                                                                   miss injured firefighters
       room only in cen-                                                                without a pension.
       tral London last                                                                   The three—Martin Mar-
       night (6 March), as                                                              rion, Neil Burke and Andy
       firefighters from                                                                Scott—were left jobless
       across the capital                                                               and penniless in a move
descended on a mass                                                                     the union described as
meeting in Euston to dis-                                                               “inhuman”.
cuss the campaign to de-                                                                  Now thousands of fire-
fend firefighters’ pen-                                                                 fighters up and down the
sions.                                                                                  country—with the excep-
  The meeting had been                                                                  tion of Scotland, where the
called by the London re-                                                                devolved government has
gion of the Fire Brigades                                                               sensibly decided not to
Union in response to a                                                                  implement the new rules—
government decision to                                                                  stand to be affected in the
effectively abolish ill-                                                                same way if the changes
health and injury pen-                                                                  are not reversed.
sions in the fire service.                                                                Opening the Euston
  The dispute has brought                                                               meeting, the FBU’s re-
the service to the brink of                                                             gional secretary for Lon-
a national strike, with fire-                                                           don, Joe MacVeigh, paid
fighters going all out to                                                               tribute to the three fire-
                              UNITED: Just some of those who attended the mass meeting
halt the attacks.                                                                       fighters and called upon all
  The row first erupted when it    ments terminated, following the London members to rally to the
was revealed that three dis-       introduction of new government union’s flag.
abled ex-London firefighters       rules—brought in behind the                        Then spoke the FBU’s na-
had, in an unprecedented           back of the union—which give tional president, Mick Shaw,
move, seen their pension pay- fire authorities the right to dis-                  who described the current
                                                                                                     (continued overleaf)
situation as “intolerable”, and                    peace and stability to the UK fire     Thompsons, that things started
assured members that the union                     service. But if we don’t get jus-      to happen. I felt that I was no
was fighting the attack on every                   tice, we won’t see peace. No           longer on my own, and it
front, including securing a judi-                  justice, no peace,” he said to         brought home to me just how
cial review of the government’s                    thunderous applause.                   vital trade unions are to this
actions, which is currently taking                   The most moving contribution         day.”
place at the high court in Lon-                    came from Martin Marrion, one            Following a concerted FBU
don, and the outcome of which                      of those whose pension pay-            campaign, the pension pay-
will be known later this month.                    ments had been terminated.             ments of Martin and his col-
  The union’s general secretary,                     Martin spoke personally and          leagues were temporarily rein-
Matt Wrack, then addressed the                     passionately about the devastat-
meeting and launched a scath-                      ing impact of the events of the
ing attack on government minis-                    last eight months on him and his
ters and civil servants for attack-                family.                                                       STRIKE:
ing the most vulnerable mem-                         The meeting listened intently                               FBU members
                                                                                                                 could be
bers of the workforce.                             as Martin explained how, having                               forced to take
  The general secretary told the                   been a firefighter for 27 years, it                           to picket lines
                                                                                                                 again over
meeting that the union was not                     had never been his wish to                                    attacks on
seeking a national conflict, but it                leave the job early. But a degen-                             firefighter
would not shy away from one if                     erative hearing disorder made it
that’s what it took. He had spo-                   impossible for him to remain
ken to similar meetings of mem-                    fully operational.
bers around the country, and                         “Like everyone else, I just
not a single person had dis-                       naturally expected my pension          stated. However, depending
agreed with the union’s stance.                    would always be there. I had           upon the outcome of the current
The attack on ill-health pensions                  paid in thousands over the             judicial review, the three could
was “indefensible”, he told angry                  years, and I felt I had a right to a   find themselves back to square
members.                                           decent retirement after so many        one, with no job and no pension.
  The general secretary also                       years of commitment to my em-            And should the union’s legal
                                                   ployer.”                               bid fail, it will be left with no op-
                                                     Having settled into retirement,      tion but to ballot its membership
                                                   Martin said it came as the big-        for national strike action.
                                                   gest shock of his life to be sud-        Every London member who
                                                   denly told that his pension pay-       spoke at the Euston meeting
                                                   ments would be stopped in light        agreed that this was a fight the
                                                   on the new rules. “I just felt         union must take on and win.
                                                   numb,” said Martin. “The next            Recent developments have
                                                   few hours were a blur, as I tried      seen even a number of chief fire
                                                   to work out how to cope. I had         officers and senior fire authority
  FIGHT: FBU president Mick Shaw, flanked by       bills to pay, commitments to my        politicians make public their op-
  Matt Wrack (far left) and Martin Marrion (right)
                                                   family, and I had no means to          position to the government
highlighted the hypocrisy of the meet them. I began to feel                               changes, leaving ministers and
civil servants responsible for                     guilty, almost as if I had let my      civil servants increasingly iso-
bringing about the changes;                        family down by not being able to       lated.
their own pension scheme ac-                       provide for them any longer.             For the first time in many
commodates a higher number of “Just imagine what it would be                              years, it seems that all sides in
ill-health retirements than does like, as a serving firefighter, to                       the fire service are broadly
the Firefighters’ Pension                          be told that your last pay packet      united over a major political dis-
Scheme.                                            would be the final salary you will     pute. Whether government min-
   “An injury to one is an injury to ever receive. That’s the equiva-                     isters choose to listen to this
all: that is the principle we must lent of what happened to me.”                          consensus or ignore everybody
work to,” said the general secre- Martin’s first move was to pick                         remains to be seen. However,
tary. “All we are asking for is                    up the phone to the FBU. “I            one thing’s for sure: if they
justice and fairness. We have                      can’t thank the union enough,”         choose the latter option, the
worked hard in the last few                        he said. “It was only through          FBU—nationally and in Lon-
years trying to bring about                        them and their solicitors,             don—stands ready to fight back.

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