Firefighters reject employers’ pay proposal

FBU members on strike in Essex in 2015

Firefighters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to enter into open-ended contracts.

58% of FBU members voted in the consultative ballot exceeding the threshold required for industrial action under the 2016 Trade Union Act.

97% of members rejected a controversial proposal from employers that would have seen locally imposed expansion of a firefighter’s role. The union argued that the “non-exhaustive” list of proposed duties could have allowed local employers to expand a firefighter’s role at will and without boundaries.

The ballot of FBU members comes after years of pay restraint, with firefighter pay frozen or capped below inflation for nearly a decade.

Employers, through the National Joint Council (NJC), proposed a 13.57% pay raise over the course of three years. However, there was no guarantee that firefighters would actually be paid such an increase, as employers had not received any indication that government was willing to provide the necessary funding.

FBU members also re-endorsed the union’s strategy in pay negotiations by a margin of 86%. Across the UK, firefighters have already taken on additional non-fire roles, such as water rescues and the operation of aerial drones. Different fire and rescue services pay different amounts, or don’t pay at all, for this work. The FBU is seeking to reign this in through national negotiation.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Our members have made their feelings loud and clear, and employers must now listen.  What this ballot has proven beyond doubt is the anger that FBU members feel at this insulting proposal. The employers have to recognise that any plan to introduce open ended contracts, is dead in the water.

“The results of the ballot show that members overwhelmingly support a strategy which seeks to provide investment in our service, end pay stagnation and, crucially, put the voice of firefighters at the heart of any future changes in our service.

“Its now time for the employers to get back to the negotiating table to develop a serious, professional and sustainable pay proposal for FBU members.”

The ballot was the union’s first using online voting, with nearly half of all who voted doing so online.

The FBU’s executive council will now consider the next steps in its campaign for fair pay and conditions for firefighters.

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