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Fire Brigades Union warns of strikes without progress in pay talks

08 Feb 2023 2 minute read
Picture by: Aaron Chown

Strikes by firefighters will be announced unless there is no progress in last-minute talks over pay on Wednesday, a union has warned.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called for a “significant shift” from employers following a huge vote for industrial action over a 5% pay offer.

The union said it hopes to resolve the dispute without a strike, and is giving employers chance to come forward with an improved offer.

If the talks fail, strike dates are expected to be announced on Thursday.

Strength of feeling

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, said: “The strength of feeling among firefighters is clear, with an 88% vote in favour of strikes by FBU members, and 94% in Northern Ireland.

“That’s one of the biggest mandates for industrial action by a trade union in recent years.

“The reason for that massive vote to strike is simple: firefighters are dealing with financial hardship and the growing threat of ‘in work’ poverty, with a real-terms cut to their wages.

“They are struggling to pay the bills during the cost-of-living crisis that this Government is presiding over.

“Going on strike is an absolute last resort for firefighters.

“However, this action can still be avoided if the employers make an offer which addresses the concerns of firefighters.

“The FBU is adopting an open-minded and constructive approach to the talks today, having already delayed strike action by 10 days to allow employers to meet us.

“Industrial action is not inevitable if the employers genuinely engage with the FBU about the anger among firefighters about poverty pay and improve their offer to address our concerns.

“However, firefighters will not be messed about, and the Government and employers cannot ride roughshod over the 88% vote for strikes by FBU members.

“If there is no significant shift from the employers, then strikes will be announced tomorrow (Thursday).

“The responsibility for any disruption to services would then firmly lie with fire service employers and government ministers for not delivering a serious pay offer.”

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