Hopes for end to firefighter pay dispute as union bosses back improved deal

Hopes for end to firefighter pay dispute as union bosses back improved deal thumbnail

Firefighters are being urged by union leaders to accept an increased pay deal aimed at avoiding the first nationwide strike action by the service in 20 years.

A revised offer was made earlier this week to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) of a 7% pay rise backdated to last July and a further 5% from July this year.

The union’s executive has unanimously recommended the deal, which it has described as “a significant shift” by employers.

It will be put to a ballot which opens on 20 February and closes on 6 March.

The union postponed threatened walkouts while members are consulted.

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Fire Brigades Union General Secretary Matt Wrack says the offer being put to his members is for 7% backdated pay to July 2022, and then a 5% increase from 1 July this year

Firefighters had previously overwhelmingly backed action, with 88% voting in favour of strikes.

However, the leadership also said it would “not sugar-coat” the offer, arguing firefighters had seen a 12% drop in earnings since 2010.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told members: “We should all be proud of the campaign we have run to get this far.

“We have now moved our employers from 2% in June last year, to 5% in November, and now to 7% plus 5%.

“This achievement was only possible because of our overwhelming mandate for strike action.

“It is clear evidence of the value of collective bargaining and negotiation as opposed to so-called ‘independent’ pay review bodies.

“I can also confirm that there are no ‘strings’ attached to this offer.

“It places no conditions on our working conditions or role remit, and for the first time our employers have formally recognised the importance of key FBU demands around retained members, control members and pay progression.

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“However, we will not sugar-coat this offer, or the realities of firefighter pay. Since 2010, firefighters have lost more than 12% of the value of their pay.

“Given the current rate of inflation, 7% is another real-terms pay cut for the current pay round (which runs from July 2022 to July 2023). For the following year (July 2023 to July 2024), when inflation is forecast to be lower, 5% may amount to a slight increase in real-terms pay.

“The executive council has weighed up the positives and negatives and decided that, on balance, we recommend that members vote to accept this offer.”

The last nationwide strike by firefighters was in 2003.