Is there any such thing as a job for life?

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FireworksThe Fire Brigade are once again pulling out a four day strike, this time over the weekend when half the country will be sparking up the bonfires to celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes.

The Fire Brigade strike will start at 6pm this evening, 31st October and run through to 6pm on the 4th of November.

The Fire Brigades Union are calling for new pensions rights. They argue that many fire fighters won’t be able to serve until the age of 60 for fitness reasons and thus won’t receive a full pension (sounds reasonable!).

The government argue that Fire Fighters already have one of the most generous public sector pension plans and if they retire at 60 on £29k will receive a £19k (£26k if you include the State pension) which for normal people would require a pension pot of about half a million quid. Fire Fighters would need to double their contributions for life to build an equivalent private pension.

So it’s pretty clear something has to give – If you’re in a job which requires the peak of physical fitness you might get old and be unable to do it for life. Plus with an ageing population it’s hard to see how ultra generous pensions can be funded in the first place.

If you go back a few years, people worked from 16 to 65 (not these days with youngsters all encouraged to stay in education and go to Uni before they start earning so at best start contributing to a pension some five year’s late). Then they’d retire for a couple of years and then they’d die. That sounds very blunt but it’s the truth, pensions didn’t generally have to support the average person well into their nineties or even hundreds as hardly anyone lived that long.

In 1960 the average life expectancy was 71 years old. This has now risen to just over 81 years old so, by the time the current generation of workers retire, people could on average be living for a full century and some much longer.

The question is, is there any such things as jobs for life any more? How many careers have you already have and do you think you’re now in your final career to retirement? A possibly more apt question is will you ever get to retire, the government is pushing retirement ages ever higher and for many now in work will be 70 before they can retire.

It seems reasonable that Fire Fighters get a decent pension. The question is much wider than should they get a full pension at the age of 60 (or earlier). The question really is should we as a country be expecting anyone to retire 20 or 30 years before they die and is it time to accept that after a full career we all might have to find a new more suitable occupation and work a bit longer?

In the mean time if you were planning a bonfire and fireworks party this weekend, it might be worth delaying until next weekend, just in case you set your house on fire!

13 Responses

  1. Pension system is quite unfair in some respects. I’ve worked almost all of my working life and paid self employed contributions but I will not get a full state pension.

    I have no choice but to have to carry on working until I drop or win the lottery.

    I don’t think there is such a thing as a job for life any more.

  2. you dont need to be young and fit to work in an office or drive
    etc, the fire service should aim to employ job for life with employment in the service a progression of tasks suitable to age

  3. I’m barely 21, I certainly hope I’m not in my final career!

    I have a similar view to northumbrian though – is it not possible to accomodate the less fit aging firefighters to the less strenuous work?

  4. I’m sure that we all have had a visit at one time or another from a Fireman to check on our Smoke Alarms or to carry out a Fire Inspection or even to advise on this or that. Every time I have had it always seems to be a young Fireman in his twenties rather than an old Fireman in his forties or fifties. Surely this is a job that the older Fireman could do when he can no longer face a life threatening fire?

    Also what about attending Events with the Fire Brigades Chip Pan Fire Demonstration or indeed manning a Fire Engine on a Fire Brigades Stand at an event. But again whenever I see such a stall it tends always to be the younger Firemen manning it rather than the older Firemen.

  5. Hello. Can I post the following letter that I had published by the Brighton Argus in November 2007?

    ‘With reference to the letter from serving firefighter MT Powell (The Argus, November 29).

    I really wouldn’t want him to think that we (the public) are being punished because the fire service threatened to strike in support of their 40 per cent claim for increased wages in 2001-02.
    Today a trainee firefighter will start on £20,396 with an overtime rate of £13.97 an hour, in development he or she will earn £21,245, with an overtime rate of £14.55 an hour.
    As a “competent” firefighter they will earn £27,185 with an overtime rate of £18.62 an hour.
    Further progression within the basic ranks offers a basic salary up to £36,667 and an overtime of £26.48 an hour.
    These salary rates are higher than almost any other fire service in the world, including America.
    Members of the fire service work a 42-hour week and shifts vary from brigade to brigade.
    Some work two nine-hour days and two 15-hour nights, while others do 12 hours and eight hours.
    Paid leave on joining the service is 28 days a year in addition to public holidays.
    If required to work on these days they are paid double time and given time off in lieu.
    If they choose to retire with 25 years of service at the age of 50 or more they will receive a pension of roughly the rate of half pay.
    To join the fire service you simply need to be over 18, have good eyesight, without contact lenses or glasses, have a good level of all-round fitness and be sufficiently literate to take a basic general written and practical test.
    Firefighters spend a large proportion of their working week carrying out duties quite separate from actual firefighting such as public and corporate advice and basic maintenance duties.
    A lot of this work could be carried out by other much more economical agencies but the idea of such change has been fiercely resisted by the fire service themselves.
    The above facts and figures were taken from the Fire Service’s own website.

    As a socialist and a 56-year-old nurse, I feel there is an arguable case that the fire service should be privatised and the public should pay for basic and essential firefighting services through a levy on buildings insurance and that other fringe services should be provided through the private sector.’

    P.S.I had to retire as a nurse in 2013 through ill health (after 15 years working in the NHS) and now receive the princely pension of £259 each month. I am 63.

  6. Sports people have to start looking thinking about new jobs when they hit 30… Why should fireman be any different? Nobody is entitled to a ‘job for life’.
    This is a small taste of things to come in Labour get in next year.

  7. I support our fire-fighters.
    A few comments have been made about re-deployment within the service once a fire-fighter can no longer keep up to fitness levels…

    This would be fine if it was an option –
    However, The Governments proposals to sack fire-fighters if they fail fitness tests results in a loss of 50% of a fire-fighters pension.
    And The Gov’s research shows that most 55-60 year old fire-fighters will not be able to pass the tests –
    And there are nowhere near enough non-frontline posts to accomodate ‘older’ public safety ‘heroes’.


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