GMB Paramedic union news update VOICE July 2019
3 July 2019

FBU & Judges claims regarding changes in pension arrangements

The two legal cases began in 2015/2016 and considered whether members of the judges’ and firefighters’ pension schemes were discriminated against on the grounds of age. This was based on the fact that younger scheme members were eligible to less favorable benefits than older scheme members during a transition period after their pension schemes changed.

Members of the schemes who had less than 10 years before retirement were entitled to full protection, those with between 10 and 14 years until retirement had tapered protection, meaning they retained some benefits for a limited period.

Those with more than 14 years until retirement got no protection and were placed immediately in the new scheme.

The Government accepted it had discriminated against the claimants but argued that this was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim – to protect those closest to retirement.

The judge claimants were successful in the Employment Tribunal, and later in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal when the Government appealed the case.

The firefighter claimants were unsuccessful at first because the Employment Tribunal held the transitional provisions were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. However, when the firefighter claimants appealed this decision, although the Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the Employment Tribunal’s findings on a legitimate aim, it remitted the case for further consideration as to whether the means to achieve that aim were proportionate.

In December 2018, the Court of Appeal decided that both the judges’ and firefighters’ age discrimination claims should succeed.

Those claims have now been sent back to the Employment Tribunal to determine remedy but the Government did request permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Government’s application was refused on 27 June 2019 and the Court of Appeal findings stand.

This means that the Court of Appeal judgement stands and that the "transitional protection" that is evident in the Local Government, Civil Service and NHS Pensions Schemes has given rise to unlawful discrimination. The government will now be required to introduce a remedy to compensate for the difference in treatment since the new pension schemes became effective. The government is considering the impact of this decision and it is likely that the Employment Tribunals will refer to special parties on a sector by sector basis as to what constitutes a remedy and who should be compensated. We will provide further updates on next steps as soon as possible.

Retirement age campaign

The GMB have written to the D.O.H to ask for discussions and explore the benefits of lowering the retirement age, managing working longer, a separate pension scheme and separate collective bargaining arrangements for our ambulance service members.

The GMB has long campaigned to bring attention to the terms and conditions of ambulance staff.

We will of course update you on this issue when they get a response from the department and will continue to campaign on this matter.

Roster review

At our recent branch meeting the issue of the current roster review was discussed at length, with the following motion being passed unanimously.

This branch will withdraw support for the roster review project to enable a full consultation with its members to take place.”

It is clear that the implementation of this review is not going as we expected as in the Manchester area with staff being told they have to move both shifts and station.

As you can imagine this has caused major upset to these staff involved and all three unions are of the one opinion that we cannot and will not support such a widespread change to members working conditions.

We met with senior managers yesterday to discuss the issues previously highlighted to them, they have agreed to set up a meeting early next week to go through the concerns we have raised.

We believe that most of the issues would not have arisen if proper partnership working was followed from the beginning of this project.

However, management appear to have delegated their responsibility to consult and work in partnership to outside agencies such as working time solutions (WTS) who are following ORH roster keys to the letter.

It is clear that they cannot carry on overworking staff at the current levels and that extra resources are required but those additional vehicle hours have reduced by over 50% since this start of this project.

They say this is due to them having been given more time to dispatch a vehicle under ARP and has now resulted in some areas losing vehicle hours. It is therefore clear that it is not patient focussed but more about hitting the target time as cheaply as possible.

This trust according to the national audit office (NAO) is the most efficient in England; they have over £40 million cash in hand (held in the Government bank) and had an operating surplus of over £5,000,000 last year.

If they are saving this for a rainy day the weather forecast is for storms on the horizon heading their way.

We will update you next week following the planned meeting.

Body worn cameras

NWAS have been selected, along with North East and London, as one of three Trusts to trial body worn cameras.

NEAS have been using them for a while with some positive results and a reduction in violence towards staff being reported.

While we welcome this initiative we will need to have strict policies in place over the use and ownership of the data provided by such cameras.

Those discussions have not started yet and we are collating information from other services that use the equipment to ensure we can follow best practise.

Once we have a date for roll-out or agree policies we will inform our members in the normal way.

EOC Overruns

If any EOC staff are delayed past their normal finishing time overtime is payable. It is not something that is expected as part of the job.

This has been clarified at the recent A&E consultative and appears to be normal practise in at least two control rooms.

Therefore if any EMDs are required to work past their normal finishing time please ensure you book it as overtime, if you have any issues with this please contact your local GMB rep.

GMB North West & Irish Region