Fire Brigades Union urges “significant shift” from employers ahead of crunch talks

Crucial negotiations on fire service pay are set to take place today, Wednesday 8th February. A meeting of the National Joint Council (NJC) is expected to discuss a new pay offer from Fire Service employers.

It follows the result of last week’s strike ballot, in which a resounding 88% of firefighters voted for action on a 73% turnout.

Following the negotiations, the Fire Brigades Union Executive Committee will meet to discuss any offer. From 5pm, union spokespeople will be available for broadcast interviews on the outcome of these discussions.

The Fire Brigades Union hopes to resolve the dispute without a strike, and has given employers an additional ten days to come forward with a significantly improved offer. However, if talks fail, strike dates are expected to be announced on Thursday.

Firefighters already rejected a 5% pay offer in November 2022, and moved to ballot for strike action in December.

Commenting ahead of the talks, Fire Brigades Union 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 per cent 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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