Boris Johnson has ordered the capital’s fire authority to consider docking pay for firefighters taking part in strike action against UK government changes to their pensions.
Ministers have proposed extending the age at which firefighters can retire on a full pension to 60.
The Fire Brigades Union claims many of its members would be unable to stay fit enough to work until the higher age and would be sacked, thereby losing some of their pension entitlement.
Firefighters have held a series of strikes in protest at the proposals, during which reduced fire cover is provided by an outside company.
The Mayor has used his power to ‘direct’ the London Fire, Emergency and Planning Authority to instruct it to consider a report from fire commissioner Ron Dobson on the benefits and risks of “withholding payment from firefighters for part or the whole period of duty on which they are on strike.”
Last week LFEPA members decided not to consider docking pay for striking staff but will now receive a report at their October 2nd meeting.
Labour’s Fiona Twycross said: “The Government’s plans are deeply unfair and will mean many firefighters will see their pensions cut dramatically if they are forced to retire early due to ill health.
“The Mayor needs to use his position of influence to get the government around the negotiating table, but instead he is punishing firefighters for standing up for their rights. Boris Johnson is prioritising financial consideration over Londoners’ safety”.
Although the Mayor sets LFEPA’s budget, the body operates as a standalone authority and is not under Mr Johnson’s direct control, although does however have the power to overrule by issuing a written ‘Direction’.
That power was used for the first time last summer when Mr Johnson directed authority members to consult Londoners over proposals to close fire stations and axe fire engines in the wake of cuts in both City Hall and UK Government grants.
In recent months the Mayor has issued a number of further directions, including instructing the authority on how it should manage the sale of closed fire station buildings.
London Assembly and LFEPA member, Darren Johnson, said: “The issuing of mayoral directions to overturn decisions of the fire authority, now almost on a weekly basis is now turning the authority into a joke.”
Ministers are currently consulting on proposals which would give the Mayor greater control over the authority without the need to use his Direction powers.