- Fire Brigades Union takes first step towards nationwide strike action
- Fire cuts are “threat to the lives, homes and livelihoods of everyone in Scotland”, says union
By Bill Heaney
The Fire Brigades Union has announced its intention to begin consulting firefighters across Scotland on strike action in opposition to a devastating package of cuts imposed by the Scottish government.
A projected five-year flat cash budget until 2027 has already removed 10 whole-time fire engines, whilst 150 retained fire engines are regularly unavailable due to significant recruitment and retention issues.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue service has announced that its own projections mean it will need to save a minimum of a further £14 million next year, which would result in the loss of a further 339 firefighters and 18 fire engines, with more to come. Scotland has lost 1200 frontline firefighters since 2012.
The move marks the first formal step towards firefighters taking strike action. This was agreed unanimously by the union’s Scottish committee this week. A formal strike ballot could follow.
It comes as the SNP gathers for its party conference in Aberdeen this weekend, and will pile pressure on First Minister Humza Yousaf to intervene.
The FBU will also be holding a demonstration at Holyrood on 26 October.
John McKenzie, Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, said: “The cuts we are seeing imposed by the Scottish government are a threat to the lives, homes and livelihoods not just of firefighters but of everyone in Scotland. They will rob Scotland of the firefighters and equipment we need to keep our communities safe.
“Speaking to firefighters across Scotland, it is clear to us that there is a determined mood among members. After ten years of cuts, our service cannot take any more.
“The public will not forgive the SNP Government if they allow this to end in strike action.”
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “These cuts are threat to the safety of everyone in Scotland, and the Fire Brigades Union has a duty to oppose them.
“Firefighters do not move towards strike action lightly. The intransigence of the Scottish government has led things to where they are now, but it still has time to reverse course. The Scottish government needs to listen to those in the front line of this vital service.”