Firefighters have threatened to withdraw from all non-contractual work, as tensions heat up between the union and employers. Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted to prepare for industrial action, as firefighters gather in Blackpool for their union’s annual conference.
Union leaders will re-enter pay negotiations with a serious threat at their disposal, after firefighters voted overwhelmingly to prepare for industrial action. All work outside of a firefighter’s core role, such as water rescues and aerial drone operation, could be withdrawn.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“Firefighters spend each day risking their lives to save others, but governments and employers have thanked them with a real terms pay cut and massive cuts to jobs, all while piling on new duties onto their daily work. Enough is enough. We will not stand by while the work of firefighters is done for free.
“We don’t take industrial action lightly – no community should have to go without their firefighters’ vital non-fire work. But we need to make it clear that, unless the government and fire service employers treat firefighters fairly and with respect, we can and will consider all forms of industrial action”
Last month, firefighters rejected a pay proposal from employers, which would have seen them enter into open-ended contracts in return for the possibility of a pay rise, funding for which had not been agreed with government. 58% of FBU members voted in the ballot, exceeding the threshold required for industrial action.
Firefighters rescued 42,000 people from non-fire incidents and nearly 4,000 from fires between April 2017 and March 2018. Central government funding for fire and rescue services has been cut by £155 million from 2016/17 to 2019/20.