STRIKE ACTION: Firefighters and control room staff vote to strike over pay

Members of the Fire Brigades Union backed walkouts by 88 per cent

Firefighters backed strikes by 88% on a huge turnout of 73% after rejecting a 5% pay offer

By Bill Heaney

Firefighters and control room staff have voted overwhelmingly to walk out in the first industrial action over pay for two decades.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) backed strikes by 88% on a huge turnout of 73% after earlier rejecting a 5% pay offer last November.

The union said it was giving the UK Government and employers ten days to make an improved offer before deciding its next move.

The union said the vote on industrial action follows more than a decade of real-terms pay cuts.

General secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters across the UK have spoken. The Fire Brigades Union has a decisive mandate for strike action.

“They have already lost at least 12% of the value of their pay since 2010.

“This is an absolute last resort for our members. The responsibility for any disruption to services lies squarely with fire service employers and government ministers.

“Rishi Sunak’s Government has refused to make funding available for a decent pay offer to firefighters and control staff.

“Firefighters were among Britain’s Covid heroes who kept frontline services going during the pandemic. The Prime Minister, PICTURED LEFT,  has badly misjudged the public mood by imposing pay cuts on key workers.

“Our members risk their health and safety, and sometimes their lives, round the clock to keep people safe and serve their communities.

“However, with inflation and energy bills rocketing, they are now increasingly struggling to pay the bills or to afford the basics.

“The Government and the employers have the power to stop strikes from happening by making a credible offer that can resolve this dispute. The ball is in their court.

“Otherwise, in the coming weeks, we intend to announce a series of strike dates and industrial action.”

Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:  “Over recent years, firefighters have endured mounting pressures as they see funding slashed, resources wiped and staff levels plummet.

“This SNP/Green administration has left our emergency services high and dry, so it is little wonder that workers believe strike action is the only option left.

“Our fire and rescue service can only be pushed so far. The Scottish Government must get ahead of pay negotiations and resolve this dispute as swiftly as possible.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) interim deputy chief officer Stuart Stevens has assured the public that any emergency where there is a risk to life or a clear sign of fire will be responded to during any strike action.

He said: “I wholly support a pay increase for our firefighters and absolutely recognise the right of firefighters to strike.

“The FBU represents many firefighters in Scotland and therefore any strike action will have an impact on our emergency response.

“As a fire and rescue service, we have a legal and moral duty to provide an emergency response to the communities of Scotland, including during periods of industrial action.

“I want to assure the public that we are developing contingency plans to enact during any strike and we will respond to any emergency where there is a risk to life or a clear sign of fire.”

Interim DCO Stevens added: “We know that the outcome of this ballot may cause concern or feelings of uncertainty.

“We will know more about what this ballot means for us as a service in the coming weeks and we will keep the public and businesses up to date.

“We also have a wealth of key safety advice on our website to help you stay safe at home, outdoors and in the workplace.”

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