LONDON REGION FBU 7 MARCH 2008 London Region FBU, John Horner Mews, Frome Street, LONDON N1 8PB. Tel: 020-7359-3638 PENSIONS FIGHT: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE! FBU leader tells London members to prepare for action I 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 pensions 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.