On 5th November I took an emergency motion to the full meeting of Newcastle City Council supporting firefighters in England with their struggle to negotiate a fair deal with the Tory/LibDem Government over pension contributions and retirement age.
The motion was passed with unanimous support from Newcastle Labour Councillors, many of whom spoke in passionate defence of firefighters and the incredible work they do to keep us all safe. Predictably, all of the Liberal Democrat Councillors in Newcastle abstained from the vote and a few of them made some pretty appalling comments during the debate.
You can watch the full debate (and the offending LibDem comments) here:
The Fire Brigades Union have been negotiating in good faith with the Coalition Government’s Fire Minister over pension contributions and retirement age. The Coalition tabled a unacceptable plan at the start of negotiations proposing a huge increase in firefighter’s pension contributions and a rise in the normal retirement age of a firefighter from 55 to 60 – two months later, and despite indications to the contrary, the Coalition refused to compromise on their original plan. In the face of such disingenuous negotiations on the part of the Coalition Government our firefighters were left with no choice but to strike.
On 17th November I took the Newcastle Labour motion to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority (Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and North Tyneside) which again passed with the unanimous support of Labour Councillors and absensions from the Liberal Democrat and Tory Members.
The Fire Brigades Union are calling on Councils across England to adopt the Newcastle Labour Motion and I would urge any Councillors who read this blog to consider doing so. The Newcastle Labour motion essentially calls on the Coalition Government to negotiate a fair deal with firefighters in England and asks Members of Parliament to support Labour’s Early Day Motion 454 to bring down the Coalition Government’s legislation which enshrines their attack on firefighters into law.
I am writing to all of the Councillors who Chair Fire and Rescue Authorities across England to urge them to adopt the Newcastle Labour Motion. If we can build a movement behind this then we can bring about the change that is needed to get a fair deal for our firefighters.
In February I am organising a Chinese Banquet in Newcastle to raise money for the Fire Brigades Union Firefighter Hardship Fund. On average a firefighter lost £600 in wages over the four day strike and the fund supports firefighters in time of need. If you would like to come to the dinner, sponsor a table or donate a prize for the raffle then please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Unity is Strength.