Firefighter pay talks came to a standstill at the latest meeting of the National Joint Council (NJC). Employers offered no increase in pay for firefighters, despite a pay rise being due on 1st July. As a result, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) gave a clear warning. Discussions had been developing between the union and employers on the role of firefighters. The work of a firefighter has significantly altered over recent years, to include work which is often outside of contract.
In March, members were consulted and overwhelmingly rejected a derisory pay proposal which would have resulted in a ‘non-exhaustive’ list of additional work. Last month at FBU conference, members voted to prepare for industrial action. At the meeting, the union made it clear that this has left them no choice but to urgently consider preparing for a trade dispute and to discuss industrial action with members.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“Our members have given us a clear mandate. We will not stand idly by while firefighters are taken for granted at every turn. We are open to dialogue on expanding the role of firefighters, but we are resolutely clear that this must be coupled with a fair and decent pay rise. Today, employers have failed to deliver this.
“We’ll continue talking to employers, but this should be a warning - we have put them on notice. We’ll be urgently discussing the next steps in our campaign, including how we prepare for a trade dispute, and a discussion with members about industrial action.
“The lack of action is insulting to hardworking and dedicated firefighters, who risk their lives to keep communities safe. After a decade of pay restraint, and a real term pay cut, enough is enough. Firefighters need and deserve a pay rise that reflects their expanding skills, knowledge and experience.”
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.
FBU’s executive council will meet next week (18-20 June) to discuss and make further arrangements, more details will follow.