The 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!