The Fire Brigades Union has condemned a 2% pay bump proposed by employers and described the offer as an “insult” to frontline firefighters and control staff.
After a meeting of the executive council of the FBU today, the union has slammed fire service employers and chief fire officers for offering a pay rise below that of teachers, doctors, dentists, police and prison officers.
The union criticised government ministers for failing to step in and ensure firefighters were properly rewarded, “especially in light of the extra work taken on in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis”.
The offer will now go out for consultation. The FBU is recommending that the money be paid immediately to staff, but has said it will “talk to members about their options to campaign for better pay over the next year, including industrial action”.
General secretary Matt Wrack said that the offer “does not address the needs of FBU members”, but should be paid to them immediately as “this money will be better in their pockets than sitting in employer reserves”.
Commenting on negotiations, Wrack said: “Firefighters and control staff were due a pay offer on July 1st. Nearly a month past that deadline, fire service employers have made an offer – there is absolutely no excuse for making our members wait like this.
“Sadly, the offer reflects the fact that employers simply do not value the vital and life-saving work our members undertake every day, nor the extraordinary lengths many have gone to in aiding the coronavirus response.
“Government ministers could have stepped in to ensure our members would be properly rewarded in this year’s pay round, but they chose to stand idly by.”
In March this year, the FBU and other stakeholders reached an arrangement to allow firefighters to take on additional roles in the Covid-19 crisis, including driving ambulances and retrieving dead bodies.
Wrack added: “The chief fire officers who advise employers during pay negotiations must also bear some responsibility for the desperate situation facing our service and those who work in it.
“Throughout the past decade they have done absolutely nothing to challenge the brutal austerity policies of central government which have continued to rob our service of investment and resources.
“This pay offer does not address the needs of FBU members whose wages have still not recovered from years of pay restraint, however firefighters and control staff desperately need an improvement in their living standards and this money will be better in their pockets than sitting in employer reserves.
“We will now consult firefighters and control staff on the offer and discuss campaigning options around issues of pay and conditions over the coming year, including various forms of industrial action.”
The trade union highlighted that firefighters and control staff have seen repeated pay restraints imposed over the past ten years, and that firefighters are now £4,000 worse off than they were in 2010.
It also pointed out that the pay increase proposed is the same settlement that employees were offered last year, despite firefighters having taken on an additional 14 areas of work to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, firefighters agreed to continue aiding the Covid-19 response through the summer, saying that they would not “abandon communities now” and extending the arrangement reached in March until the end of September.