lou1z

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lou1z last won the day on August 31 2013

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About lou1z

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  1. Firefighters vote to strike over pensions

    Hi, some interesting stuff about MP's pay, allowances, pension here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salaries_of_Members_of_the_United_Kingdom_Parliament With regards to pay.... we're talking along time ago when they were level. Also check the pay rise at 2001/02 that the LRD gave them. That was the one that the independent pay review body recommended them (which they took) and the FBU went to exactly the same pay review body as the the pay formula at the time wasn't producing. So the MP's took the pay claiming it was independant whilst at the same time lambasting another group of workers who went to the same body. There's also the 1/40th pension in there. I think they have a choice of 3 contributory rates 9,11 & 14% approx with the last one giving them a 1/40th pension. They are very quick to point out they pay 14% but tend to hide the fact that it's a 1/40th compared to most peoples 1/60th. With regards to my work colleague, yes nobody is forcing him to work to 60 but he would like to go out with what he was promised and has contributed 20 years + to. Yes, it's more of compelled to work to rather than forced to work to. I'm sure it's the same in you profession that once people start getting to 20 years plus, they start to plan their retirement and to have the rug pulled out from under your feet at that late stage is dispicable from a government that praise you on one hand and rob you with the next. And yes, there is nothing out there to touch these pension schemes currently but the uncertainty of not getting to the end (which is nigh on impossible with the level they have set) is leading to people not willing to take the chance. If you were to join our pension scheme today ie the one they changed in 2006 (and promised not to come back for more) and didn't make the fitness grade at say 52, there is every possibility that you would be dismissed under capability and you would not see a penny of that money until state pension age as it becomes deferred. So sensible people are weighting it up and it is too big a risk for some who then choose to put the money into property etc. instead. Yes, it's a risk but so is joining the fire-fighters pension scheme at the moment. Couple that with the broken promises of government and people think they will be back for more in the future despite the so called 25 year guarantee. Lol.... I take the point about Greece also although there was probably more to it than all of those things mentioned and spun by this government in an attempt to convince us that they couldn't afford anything. And the latest..... apparently the strike announcements have got the Fire Minister and CLG back around the table today 24th December 2013 so they have had the desired effect. But we've been here before with the previous government i.e. talk don't walk and all in the name of stalling strikes etc. I suspect the new years eve strike is causing a lot of disruption for them, hence why they are now keen to talk. They've probably had it reported back to them that the cover is extremely sparse despite offering in some counties 5 x the wage. So hopefully something might pan out of it and the FBU don't fall for the same tricks they did in 2002/3. Anyway, for all those working tonight and tommorrow..... may it be a quiet day and night to you. Happy Christmas. Louis
  2. Firefighters vote to strike over pensions

    There was a time you were on the same wages as an MP also. Not a chance of that now as they cap or freeze everybody's pay whilst still increasing their own. Indeed that was what the 2002/03 fire strikes were about. The formula that Firefighters wages was based on was not producing any more due to the way industry had declined in the UK. The government had gone to an independent pay review and it turned them out 40% which they couldn't take quick enough. The FBU thought "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander!" and went to exactly the same review body who turned out 40% as well. The MP's claimed "greedy firefighters!" whilst taking their 40% and double figure year on year pay rises behind the scenes and they're still doing it now. But hey ho, that's another matter. And to show you how unjust these changes are, I have a work colleague who joined the same day as me. We went to the same training school etc and served at exactly the same station. Last year, I was 45 and he was 40 years old. I get to retire at 55 (30 years service) and he should have retired at 50 (30 years service). Instead he has to work an extra 10 years i.e. to age 60 (which he probably won't make it to due to the fitness level being set too high for somebody that age. Contribution wise, he has to contribute about £40k more (£4k a year x 10) and all the time his commutation figure (lump sum) is dropping as he gets older. Couple that up with if he can't get to 60 years of age, he can lose up to 40% of his pension if he fails his fitness tests, then you can see how unjust these changes are. With regards to the strikes, the 4 hours strikes are designed to keep fire-fighters wage losses at a minimum whilst causing maximum disruption. Nobody likes doing them but the FBU were left with no choice. Despite the governments claims of "talk to us, negotiate with us etc", they have simply ignored their own evidence and walked away from the negotiations which they simply haven't been able to offer one valid argument for the changes they want to impose. They are now claiming it's one of the most generous schemes in the public sector to which they've already lost that argument. They also claim that it's the most expensive but that's probably down to them pricing people out of it with 14.2% - 18% contribution rates which is causing a less in/more out scenario which they were warned about prior to making these changes. Would any sensible person join a scheme, paying £400+ a month, where the vast majority are unlikely to get to the end of the scheme and collect? And speaking of schemes, is anybody on a 1/40th scheme that most of them are on and tend to keep quiet whilst reluctantly accepting their latest 15% pay rise! I love my job and don't grumble about the amount of deductions I get etc, but this sorry episode is leaving an extremely sour taste in my mouth and I'm now getting to the point of wishing my life away, hoping to get out with what I can and thinking of leaving the country! I'm sure you have the same sort of issues in your profession and I wish you all the best with your campaigns. Only by standing together will you fight some of the unjust changes off. Happy Christmas and god bless you all. Louis
  3. Firefighters vote to strike over pensions

    Hi everyone, just thought I'd post an update on this as it's been rumbling on for some time now and more strikes have been called over the xmas period. The reasons these strikes have been called is an attempt to get the Fire Minister (Brandon Lewis) back to the negotiating table. Although he claims he has always been available for talks, the facts are actually quite different and he hasn't had any meaningful talks since early October 2013 unlike the Welsh, Scottish & Irish governments. The UK government have been happy to ignore any correspondence via letter, email or telephone since this date. He has claimed he is constantly available for talks but the FBU have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get a reply from his office everyday this week. However, he has acknowledged that there is a problem with fire-fighter fitness and age some 6 months after his own commissioned report stated this. His answer to this was "Don't worry, the Fire authorities and local employers will see you ok if you are not fit enough to do the job. Don't worry about it." Now..... would you trust a politician?? We certainly don't. We've had lots of previous dealings with them. So basically, he was saying that if you're unfit, you would be treated ok and they would find another job for you or retire you on ill health with hardly any penalty etc. The FBU claimed that this could not be left to local authorities to decide as it would be a postcode lottery of who got retired on ill health and who got sacked through capability. Something needed to be wrote into statute rather than guidance. Unfortunately for the Fire Minister, the local authorities and employers then came out and stated "yes we will sack them under capability as we can't afford to keep them on and there are no jobs for them to go to. You will need to make us keep them on or force us to retire them on ill health." So now we have a situation where the FBU and employers are claiming that something has to wrote into the pension scheme to force them to adhere to it. That would give the FBU peace of mind and would straight jacket the employers into a procedure that they would have to follow. Problem is, that by writing that in, the government would have to pay for it whereas the government want the local authorities to pick up the tab for the problem that they have created. And that is just one of the issues we are facing. The contribution increases and the threat of never being able to get to the end of the pension is something that is encouraging new recruits to not sign up to the scheme which is also causing an imbalance ie less money in, more money out and it doesn't take Einstein to figure out what will eventually happen there..... a possible collapse of the pension scheme making the fire service ripe for privatisation with no pension liabilities. The vultures are already circling on the name of Babcocks, Serco etc. So quite a few things going on there with the fire service and I hope you understand our plight with this especially when the tories haven't really got anywhere else to go with it and turn the spin machine on us greedy firemen who apparently just play pool, drink tea and sleep all night long. Happy xmas to all and good luck with your campaigns. Louis
  4. I'm not really moaning about what they have but people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones and I agree with you 100%. They should have led by example rather than wait for it all to quieten down and then probably not make any change. These are the people who have held your pay back whilst awarding themselves inflation busting pay rises, year on year. They should practice what they preach. The pension bill has gone through The Commons and The Lords and is now statute but I do stand corrected, it is different depending on the scheme you are in with 60 being the minimum age for police, fire & armed services from 2015 whilst the rest are 67.
  5. Overweight \Cops

    If the admin doesn't mind, it's http://www.uk-fire.net
  6. FBU Ballot on Pension Changes.

    It's only tax free if you do not go over the threshold. If your commutation rate is over 20 when you retire ie at 50 it will be 22.10 and you elect to commute 25%, you will find that you will be taxed on the amount that is over 20x the amount you choose to commute at 40%. Some people get a shock with this. To give you an example: You finish on £30000 and a 2/3rd pension ie £30000 x 40/60 = £20000 You then elect to commute 25% of that which is £20000 x 25% = £5000 You finish at 50 so your lump sum is £5000 x 22.10 (your commutation factor at 50) = £110500 The above has now gone over the threshold of £5000 x 20 (£100000) so you will be taxed at 40% on £10500 which equals £4200 Your lump sum would therefore be £106300 To avoid tax, you have to adjust the percentage you choose to commute eg reduce it to 22.3% etc so that the figure comes falls below the tax threshold of 20x Looking at your commutation tables, you would be able to take the full 25% at age 55 & 6 months without incurring any tax.
  7. Overweight \Cops

    Thank you very much for the detailed reply. I'll post it on my forum as I know that us firey's aren't fully aware that you're going through the mill as much as us. Very depressing to say the least and I do fear for the future of both services as they appear to be taking the career out of them.
  8. Overweight \Cops

    Hi, I am a wholetime firefighter and we are going through the same sort of thing. Can I ask what happens if you fail this test and more importantly what happens if you keep failing this test? Louis
  9. Firefighters vote to strike over pensions

    And that is the tactic that they will use against you. Comparing you to somebody else with the latest being that somebody in the private sector would have to pay twice as much to get the same pension as you are. What they fail to mention is that it they are comparing it to somebody who is self employed or in a private pension, not an employer based pension where the employer also contributes to it. You may actually find that your pension has a lower employer:employee ratio compared to others in the private sector.
  10. FBU Ballot on Pension Changes.

    That's correct and when less starts going in (due to a decrease in the number of police or new entrants don't join), more of the annual allocation has to go towards your pension. You will soon hear them complain when this happens. Not if you go over 20 times what you decide to commute which is quite easy to do as the commutation factors are high. The part that goes above the 20x is then liable to 40% tax. You simply have to adjust the percentage you commute eg 23% instead of 25% to make it tax free.
  11. FBU Ballot on Pension Changes.

    Most people take the lumper as a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. That being said, with the change of index linking from RPI to CPI, it only takes about 13 years to get back that lumper if you don't take it. From then on in, you start to see the benefits of not taking it and it rises quite sharply at 25 years plus. You've also got to take into account your personal circumstances at the time eg is it better to pay off the mortgage now etc. I'll be taking mine for sure although I'm not sure where I'll bank it yet!
  12. FBU Ballot on Pension Changes.

    It was only 0.6% whilst the government reviewed the opt-outs that the FBU warned them against if the full increases went ahead. They have since applied the full increase this year and next year firefighters will be paying 14.2% of their wage into their scheme. As it goes higher, more people will opt-out and less will join the scheme potentially making it collapse. Once that happens, brigades will soon complain about having to pay out most of their government settlement in pensions or try and renege on paying them. It will be no different for the police and you will probably be put under public pressure with arguments like "we're spending all of our money on pensions instead of on policing etc" & "those greedy coppers with their gold plated pensions" Tough times ahead I'm afraid for all, including those that have gone.
  13. Firefighters vote to strike over pensions

    And now to really scare the life out of you. If you were joining the job and were asked to pay £400 a month into a scheme that you might possibly not make it to the end of, would you join it? I would hazard a guess that most would not. Far better to spend it on a mortgage or invest it somewhere else. Now, once that rot has started (and it has already), it doesn't take long before any scheme becomes unviable due to less going in, more coming out. Ah, I hear you say..... "They have to pay it! It's pension liabilities and they have to by law etc" So I'll take you back to 2006 where we saw 3 London Firefighters who had retired under ill health have their pensions stopped. Why? Because after they had retired under ill health, the brigade took it upon themselves to stop their pensions because the ill health rules had changed some years after they had left. The three of them were summoned to HQ, examined again and told that they were fit to work under the new regulations. Because they weren't fit enough to firefight, they had to do a desk job of which there weren't any. Due to that, they were dismissed under capability and did not receive any pension. It was only the fact that the FBU took the brigade to the high court and won, that these people had their pension reinstated. These are the sort of tricks that this lot are up to. With the government putting a squeeze on finances, they are dreaming up all sorts of ways of saving money of which your pension is a target. Greedy firemen, greedy policemen, they get this, you only get that etc. Coming to a place near you soon. Nobody is safe and the only way to fight it is to stand together.
  14. Yes but many can't be bothered to look it up and that goes for a lot of things which is why they use statistics against you. Trust me, I've been down Westminster on numerous occasions about pensions and spoken to numerous MP's on a one to one basis. The first thing out of their mouths is "we pay 13.75%" and the last thing is "it's a 40th scheme" You also may be fortunate enough to take yours at 50 but a lot of people now are not. All of the public sector is 60 and that is now law. We really aren't all in it together!
  15. MP's have a final salary scheme with a choice of accrual rates. They can choose to contribute at 1/40th, 1/50th or 1/60th. On April 2012, MPs’ contribution rates increased by 1.85% to: 13.75% (for members with a 1/40th accrual rate); 9.75% (1/50th accrual rate); and 7.75% (1/60th accrual rate) So it's not quite the same for them as it is for us stuck on 1/60th with no choice of 1/50th or 1/40th. Yet another fudge of statistics which is what they are all about. They will claim they pay 13.75% but hide the fact that it's 1/40th and they have the choice! Dishonest until the end they are!