“This is an historic ballot for firefighters and control staff… nobody wants to be in this position. But after years of derisory pay increases and a pay offer that is well below inflation, firefighters’ and control staff’s living standards are in peril.”Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary
By the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
Last week the FBU said it would formally issue notice of ballot if “a substantial pay increase that takes into account the current level of inflation and the cost of living crisis” was not received by yesterday, after pay discussions had “failed to reach any resolution”.
No such pay offer has been received and notice of ballot (under section 226A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992) has been sent to fire and rescue service employers. A formal dispute is now open.
Firefighters and control staff have been offered a 5% pay increase, which they rejected in a consultative ballot. Annual CPI inflation currently stands at 11.1%.
The strike ballot is set to be open from Monday 5 December to Monday 30 January. Due to restrictive anti-union laws the ballot will take place only through the post. If you’re an FBU member and your postal address has changed or you think it might be wrong, it is absolutely vital that you contact email@example.com as soon as possible.
If a national strike were to take place, it would be the first national strike since pension action between 2013 and 2015 (which did not include control), and the first on pay since 2002-2003.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said:
“This is an historic ballot for firefighters and control staff. We are rarely driven to these lengths. Nobody wants to be in this position. But after years of derisory pay increases and a pay offer that is well below inflation, firefighters’ and control staff’s living standards are in peril. We have firefighters using foodbanks – we know that because FBU officials have had to sign off on members going to them. Firefighters and control staff worked throughout the pandemic and firefighters took on extra duties including moving the deceased. They have now been given a below-inflation pay offer. It is utterly disgraceful to call people “key workers” and then treat them like this.
“Strike action is always a last resort, but we are left with no other option. We asked for a pay increase that takes into account the cost of living crisis and did not receive it. The ball is still in the employers’ and government’s court. We urge them to provide a decent pay offer and help bring this dispute to an end.”
Whilst UK governments have no direct role in pay negotiations they provide a substantial amount of the funding for fire and rescue services.