UK - Part-time fire-fighters are taking their battle for equal pension rights to the House of Lords after losing a crucial test case in the Court of Appeal.
The Fire Brigades Union has vowed to “fight on” to ensure the UK’s 11,000 part-time or ‘retained’ fire-fighters receive equal pension and sickness pay rights as full-time staff.
Retained fire-fighters are not able to join the public service Fire-fighters’ Pension Scheme but are paid injury-related benefits in the event of death or disability paid for in full by the employer.
They are required to be “on call” for between 120 and 168 hours per week and must reside near the fire stations they serve.
The Appeal Court dismissed the FBU claim on the basis that the retained fire-fighters were employed under different work contracts and were not doing “the same or broadly similar work as full-timers”.
This was the same conclusion drawn by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which dismissed the case – Matthews and Others v Kent and Medway Towns Fire Authority and Others – in August last year.
However, FBU assistant general secretary Mike Fordham said the ruling would be a “bitter blow to morale”.
He added: “Retained fire-fighters will be furious employers are peddling this old prejudice at the Court of Appeal.
“No wonder there is a national shortage of retained fire-fighters when employers tell the courts they are second class and treat them as such.
“The fire service will not be modern until we are all treated in the same way and entitled to the same rights.”
The union is being represented by trade union law firm Thompsons solicitor Brian Langstaffe and barrister Martin Seaward.
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