Fresh firefighter strikes as MPs look forward to 11% pay rise and festive feast

Firefighters will be striking again this weekend following 3 years of talks over what is an outrageous attack on firefighters and their families futures.

This unelected government is about to oversee an MP pay rise of 11%, over £7000 pounds a year, which will also be going someway to bumping up their gold-plated, taxpayer pension. Incidentally some MPs still receive £3.40 from the taxpayer for every £1 that they pay into their pension scheme. A firefighter gets £1.05 for every £1 they pay in. 

That is because we are in this together I guess.

The firefighters pension contributions have increased by over 3% to over 14%. A firefighter is now paying over £300 a month into a pension, approximately £4000 a year (with an officer paying considerably more than this) and have had a negligible pay rise in the last 7 years – far lower than the price of inflation or the cost of living. With the changes to the normal pension age (rising from 55 to 60) firefighters will now have a 50/50 chance of being able to draw their pension and if they succumb to the natural ageing process, they will face losing 47% of their pension for the privilege.

In the meantime MPs have been using taxpayer money to heat horse stables, pay for and decorate second homes and have left so little for the rest of us that we now have record numbers of children in poverty and there has been a sudden realisation in recent weeks that the majority of people in poverty today already have jobs.

All this comes against the background of the Queen’s statement this year when she said that her government would be “helping people to save for their futures.” Really? Because to the many of her subjects, at present, it looks as though our futures are being stolen from us.

The fire minister Brandon Lewis says in this article that it is not fair for the taxpayer to pick up the burden for the firefighters pension but is it okay for them to pick up the liability for horse stables heating bills or £39 breakfasts? The firefighters pension scheme is NOT financially crippling to the economy, yet Brandon Lewis would have you think that firefighters and their families, are not economically viable. This is a lie.

Brandon Lewis says the issue of a normal pension age of 60 is not an issue for this dispute because it has been the case since the creation of the 2006 firefighter pension scheme; this scheme was sold on the idea of redeployment, for firefighters who cannot do operational tasks any longer that they would be given back room jobs. This has not been the case with less than 20 redeployments across the UK Fire and Rescue Service. Lewis also cites that the police and the armed forces work until 60, so why not firefighters? Well, how many soldiers patrol Helmand or Baghdad at the age of 60? The question should be why should our police or our armed forces have to work until 60? What they both have however is the ability to retrain and so there is scope for redeployment in these services but that does not mean it is RIGHT that they should have a normal pension age of 60.

Since the introduction of the 2006 firefighter scheme, something that has always been opposed by the Fire Brigades Union (and anyone with even a modicum of sense) a report was commissioned by the government, completed by Dr Tony Williams, who states that vast numbers of firefighters will not be fit to do the job between the ages of 55 and 60. To check this, Brandon Lewis looked at 20 (less than half of the English Fire and Rescue Services) fitness policies and said that firefighters could stay operational until the age of 60 no problem. Brandon Lewis based this on the absolute minimum standard fire and rescue services to keep firefighters “on the run” which would mean firefighters would face working to their physical limit every time a fire call came in. There is no margin for error and no safety limit built into the fitness standards Lewis is claiming will help firefighters reach 60. Is this fair on the safety of the public or the firefighters? No, and this year has seen more fire fatalities than at any time since I can remember in the last 7 years and this includes fatalities of both the public and of firefighters.

What is the under pinning theme behind all of this? The recession, created by the banks and the financial sector, but that is a story for another day, what I will say is this: We save people, not banks

Boy king, I thought he’d be taller

It is times like this that you see just what you are up against. For the last 24 hours and possibly for the foreseeable future, the news streams have been about nothing other than the Royal baby birth. Non stop coverage by Sky News’ Kay Burley led to one funny moment when a man announced to the world that the child was indeed black and meant I would be a clot closer to winning a million on the name being Trayvon, Tyler or Charmaine.

Kate was taken into labour yesterday morning, Kay Burley was relentless in her coverage and at one point I was sure we would find out just how dilated Kate was and lo and behold, Kay asked the question. The world waited with bated breath to see whether we would see the birth of a fresh prince or princess. The fact that people cared more about the gender than whether mother and child were both safe and healthy says a lot about the society we live, preoccupied as to whether or not we will get to see another Queen in our lifetime. As it stands, no, we won’t for Kate had a baby boy, who would be king. He sits third in line to the throne, born into a life of wealth and privilege but in reality, benefits.

The wait now is for a name but already the Royal spawn has a start in life that most children will never know as there has been a £1m makeover for the baby bedroom, raising the question what sort of blood diamond encrusted mobile it must have to look at at bed time. At the same time as the world waited for the news of boy or a girl, some people’s daughters were facing the very real prospect of genital mutilation. As many as 30 million (probably more) daughters on this planet will face genital mutilation according to Unicef, but do not worry about this violation of a young girls right to health, think about the Royal baby and how much joy it will bring to the nation.

Never mind that you will have to put your hand in your pocket for the rest of your life and your children’s lives to provide the child with a lifestyle and riches we can never imagine, you just worry about the benefits scroungers taking houses worth £500,000 (half as much as one baby bedroom just cost you) and get upset about that. Why? Because the media have told you to think about that and not to think about the cost of the Royals. Did you know the Queen just had a huge pay rise? It actually makes the MP pay rise scandal pale into insignificance.

Our children face a decline in their happiness as a result of this recession a study by a top charity has found, with a drop in their well-being being recorded since 2008. The Royal baby will have access to the best schools and medical care. Our children face privatised schools and education and the privatisation of the NHS.

Of course this is not the babies fault, he will be a product of his environment just like the rest of us, but the fact remains he will never know the suffering and struggle that far too great a number of children face in the 21st century. According to the Independent today, 1 in 3 children will be subject to poverty where parents make the choice between heating and eating, where they face the choice of eating themselves or feeding their children. It is not the babies fault but his grandmother has a £billion hat made of blood diamonds, crafted from the death and bones of countless people across the planet, a house with 78 bathrooms and 52 bedrooms. The child from a regular working family will have to worry about being able to find a job, afford rent knowing that a mortgage is beyond reach and know that they cannot go home because the state will have financially finalised their parents under the bedroom tax…The Royal babies grandmother has 52 bedrooms…


Our children now also face the possibility of being conscripted back into the armed forces, but do not call it what it is, make it open to both sexes, give them bullet proof vests to keep bullets out of their chests and forget about getting their arms and legs blown off by IED’s in a foreign land in the middle of an illegal war. You couldn’t make it up.

Finally 26 more people died in Iraq yesterday at the hands of a suicide bomber, but you wold not have noticed that because the Royal naming has to take place.

If only the hundreds of people gathered to wait for a glimpse of an easel or the thousands of people on the social media sites could take the energy committed into kneeling for the Royal family and focus it on making even the smallest change to the backwards planet we live on, our society would be a much better place. This baby has meant so much to so many, now we must see every child matter as much.