As the FBU has called its second period of strike action, due to take place this Saturday (19 October) between the hours of 1830-2330hrs, we thought it necessary to remind members (and non-members) exactly what the dispute relates to and more importantly what it does not relate to.
The trade dispute lodged by the FBU back in May identified seven specific points, namely:
- Protection arrangements which are a substantial improvement on the Proposed Final Agreement.
- No further increases in member contribution rates.
- An improved contribution ratio between employee and employer.
- Scheme provision so that any member above the age of 55 who, not being eligible for ill health retirement, is dismissed for reasons of fitness, efficiency or any other reason except misconduct, will receive immediate payment of an unreduced pension amounting to the full pension accrued at the date of dismissal.
- Flexible retirement with members being able to retire and draw their pension from the age of 55 and new scheme benefits taken before 60 being actuarially reduced with reference to the Normal Pension Age of 60 – the formula for that reduction being agreed with the FBU based upon advice the Union will obtain from its own independent actuary.
- Commutation arrangements which are a substantial improvement on the Proposed Final Agreement.
- The cost ceiling is set so that there are no reductions in pension benefits consequential upon the above provisions.
You will note that the dispute does not refer to fitness standards (determined locally and separate from the Pension Scheme) or the lowering of the Normal Pension Age (NPA) which is currently 60.
However, following the media coverage and social media outlets you could be forgiven for thinking that crews were withdrawing their labour to change both the level of fitness standards and the NPA. Even speaking to personnel this week, some are still under the misconception as to what the dispute is actually about.
Feedback from the first period of strike action on the 25th of September shows that no problems or issues over crewing arrangements and local resilience measures emerged. In the run up to the next strike on the 19th, I would ask any brigade rep who has concerns about such arrangements in their service to contact the office without delay and we will do our utmost to provide assistance and support in resolving any issues.
If you require any further advice relating to the dispute please contact either your local RFU official or RFU HQ.
National General Secretary