Firefighters and control room staff across the UK have overwhelmingly accepted a revised pay deal, ending their longstanding dispute over pay.
The Fire Brigades Union today announced that 96% of its members voted to accept the pay offer on an 84% turnout. The pay settlement is for a 7% increase backdated to July 2022, plus an additional 5% from July 2023.
FBU 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.”
Public sector pay disputes
Just one week after 88% of its members voted to strike, the FBU postponed any announcement of strike dates upon receipt of the revised offer from employers. FBU leadership then recommended firefighters accept the new deal.
“This result is testament to the power of collective action,” said Wrack. “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 we 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 a 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.”
The FBU said 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,” it said in a statement.