Saturday, June 15, 2024

Firefighters accept new pay deal to end months long dispute

FIREFIGHTERS and Control Room staff across the UK have today overwhelmingly accepted a new pay deal to end their months-long dispute over pay. 96% of Fire Brigades Union members voted to accept the pay offer on an 84% turnout.

The result makes the Fire and Rescue Service one of the only areas of the public sector to resolve its pay dispute without strike action. Collective bargaining was the key to this. Unlike workers in the NHS or teaching, pay is decided in direct negotiations rather than by a so-called “independent” pay review body.

The pay settlement is for 7% backdated to July 2022, plus an additional 5% from July 2023.

An overwhelming mandate for strike action was the crucial factor in moving Fire Service employers to make the revised offer.

Responding to the news, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary Matt Wrack said:

“The overwhelming vote by FBU members to accept the improved offer means that the dispute is resolved on terms that are favourable to firefighters. We pay tribute to members of our union for their determination and unity throughout the past year. Firefighters will now receive two pay increases, including nine months of back pay. 

“This result is testament to the power collective action. Without the huge mandate for strike action by firefighters last month, this deal would never have been achieved. We moved our employers from 2% in June last year, to 5% in November, and now to 7% plus 5% with an agreement to immediate talks on other areas where have concerns over pay.

“The crucial mechanism for achieving this outcome was direct negotiations with Fire and Rescue Service employers. With collective bargaining, we were able to make our case and avoid industrial action. This would not have been possible with so-called “independent” Pay Review Body. Under a pay review body strike action would have been inevitable and the government needs to wake up to that fact.

“The FBU leadership has been determined not to sugar-coat the offer. For the current year, 7% is still another real terms pay cut. For the following year (July 2023 to July 2024), when inflation is forecast to be lower, 5% may amount to a slight increase in real terms pay.”

Wrack added: “It’s clear from this dispute that the organised power of trade unions, including being prepared to take strike action when necessary, can protect the pay and conditions of workers.

“At a time when the UK Government is presiding over attacks on the wages of key workers in the NHS, teaching, rail, and postal services, strikes are the first line of defence against those attacks on workers.

“The FBU stands in solidarity with each and every union on strike for decent pay. 

“We will now step up our resistance against the outrageous and authoritarian law that the Tories have rushed through parliament to restrict the rights of working people to take strike action in defence of wages and jobs.” 

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