UK Firefighters Strike Postponed Over New Pay Offer

Strike action by firefighters has been put on hold while union members consider an increased pay offer. During talks on Tuesday, fire service employers put forward a revised offer, which includes a 7% pay rise backdated to July last year and another 5% from this July.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will now ballot members on the deal.

More than 80% of members who voted in a ballot in December backed strike action. If they had gone ahead, it would have been the first UK-wide fire strikes over pay since 2003.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the new pay offer was “testament to the power of collective action through the Fire Brigades Union”.

He said: “We have achieved this increase because of the massive vote in favour of strike action by firefighters and control staff across the country, which made clear the strength of feeling among firefighters about cuts to their wages.”

Since 2010, union members have experienced a 12% drop in real-terms earnings, he said.

Mr Wrack said firefighters and control room staff would now “make the decision on whether this pay offer is considered a real improvement”.

He said all discussions would be “honest and sober”, but the new offer “still amounts to a real-terms pay cut”.

When the ballot result for industrial action was announced, the government said the threat of strikes would be “disappointing and concerning for the public”.

Union members rejected a previous 5% pay offer in November, arguing it would equal a real-terms pay cut given the current high rate of inflation.

Currently, a trainee firefighter in London can earn a salary of £28,730, including London weighting. Once they are qualified, their salary can increase to £37,032.

Outside London, trainee firefighters earn £24,191 rising to £32,244 after qualification.

There has been a wave of industrial action with strikes by hundreds of thousands of workers – including nurses, teachers, civil servants and railway workers.

Nurses who are members of the Royal College of Nursing walked out on Monday and Tuesday this week.

More strikes are still to come with physios and ambulance staff taking industrial action on Thursday and Friday.

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